Songwriter credits music therapy with helping her to overcome depression, anxiety

Madison Wiederhorn said she was just 17 when she hit rock bottom. The now 22-year-old suffered from bouts of anxiety, depression, panic attacks and anorexia.

“I wasn’t able to focus on my studies because I was struggling so much and I was just not happy,” Wiederhorn told “I was miserable. I was suffering, really suffering.”

With the support of her parents, Wiederhorn checked into the New York City campus of the Newport Academy, a rehabilitation treatment facility tailored to teens with locations throughout the country. As a patient, Wiederhorn was introduced to various forms of treatment that aided her healing, including music therapy.

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“Music therapy is an interpersonal process with a trained music therapist working with a client to work toward a better sense of well-being,” Kristin McSorley, a Newport Academy music therapist, told

The goal of the therapy is for patients to listen to and/or create music that helps to address an emotional need in an artistic way rather than through traditional talk therapy. In Wiederhorn’s case, she turned to song-writing and playing in group therapy sessions under the supervision of a therapist. She said the experience was cathartic and the encouragement she received from peers helped her delve deeper into her feelings to find the root cause of her anxiety. Having the an end product also helped Wiederhorn to resolve any issues she was having trouble addressing.

“Having the product of a song is important whereas sometimes when you’re talking through it you get into this rut,” McSorley said. “When you have a song, you have a final product. You can say, ‘There. This is that part of my life. What is next?’” McSorley said.

For many patients, having a final product to share with peers can create a sense of community, and helps to establish the notion that you are not alone.

“There have been times where I write songs and I share them with other people and they really open up to me about how it makes them feel less alone and heard,” Weiderhorn said. “You don’t feel alone. You know that somebody’s gone through this, it’s going to be okay,” she said, adding, ”that’s a reminder of hope.”

Today, Wiederhorn continues to write songs and relies on the therapeutic tools she learned while at Newport Academy, which she credits for her recovery.