Effectiveness of music therapy

Subject: 🎨 Art
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 13
Word count: 3355
Topics: Music, Anxiety Disorder, Cancer, Cognitive Psychology, Depression, Health
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Music therapy refers to the use of music as an appendage to the therapy of relaxation. Music can also be used in psychotherapy with the aim of eliciting the expressions of emotions that are suppressed. This is achieved by prompting the patients to respond to the music by either shouting, dancing, laughing or crying. It is a non-verbal approach to music therapists that aims at achieving therapeutic goals in a therapeutic relation by a professional therapist and the patient.

Music therapy is employed in a therapeutic relationship with the aim of addressing physical, emotional, and cognitive and the social needs of the individuals. Music therapy has been proven effective to address several conditions. Professional music therapists identify the needs of each patient and provide treatment that may be in any form including dancing or even singing along. Through the engagement musically with the context of therapy, the abilities of the client are strengthened while being transferred to other areas of their lives. This paper seeks to assess the effectiveness of use of music therapy in the different areas where it can be employed.


In evaluating the effectiveness of music as an intervention in the treatment of depression, different factors have to be considered including age, gender and the course of stress. The various elements are deemed to have significant influence in response to music as a method of treating depression among patients. The topic helps both the patients and the medical practitioners the effectiveness of alternative methods of depression management and how it can be treated.

All over the globe, there has been an increase in the number of patients suffering from depression due to distinct factors. According to the WHO 20% of the adults in the United States who suffer from depression also develop psychotic symptoms while 10-15% of the women in the country develop postpartum depression. Although different studies conclude that music can help in the treatment of stress, it has been cited to be affected by other human factors including age of the patient, the cause of depression and gender. As such, this study aims at investigating the effectiveness of music intervention in treating depression.

According to the research by Jasemi, Aazami & Zabihi, (2016) cancer patients suffer from high level of depression that leads to the development of different complications. Further, he notes that the human life expectancy age has over the years increased due to improvement in factors such as individual and social hygiene and the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. The study establishes that cancer causes more than 482, 543 deaths in the United States over the last decade. Consequently, over 75% of the cancer patients at the final phase experience variant levels of depression. In a related study carried out in Iran concluded that an average of 20% of these patients experience anxiety while 40% of the total population suffer from depression. Notably, the two complications have distinct effect in cancer patients as affect the progression of treatment, level of medical efficiency and decrease the value of the life of the patients. To treat the depression, different medication is induced, but they have different effects including drug dependency, weakening of vital signs and addiction. Consequently, the author notes that the best method of treating depression was through the use of voice stimulant music therapy.

Jasemi, Aazami & Zabihi, (2016) used an average of 60 patients that were edged between 18 and 65 in the evaluation of the effectiveness of voice therapy. The population under investigation was divided into two groups that were based on the sex, age, stage of the disease and the education level of the patient. The results of the study showed that music had a significant effect on patients undergoing abdominal surgery, those in the critical care unit and cesarean patients. Also, the researcher noted that music helped in the reduction in the levels of depression among patients suffering from cancer by up to 30%.

The study by Erkkilä, Gold, Fachner, Ala-Ruona, Punkanen, & Vanhala, (2008) on the effect of music in treating depression concentrated on the establishing the impact of music on patients suffering from depression in Finland. Moreover, he noted that the prevalence of the disease in the country was between 5 to 6.5% of the population in the country. Additionally, only 4.1 % of men suffered from the ailment compared to 7.8% of the women population. The nation also utilized different treatment practices including psychiatric counseling that only served an average of 10% of the affected population between 2003 and 2004.

Notably, some of the medications the patients were subjected to including depressants such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI); MAOI and TCS had various side effects including diarrhea, nausea, and headache. However, patients subjected to music therapy displayed tremendous improvement. According to Erkkilä, Gold, Fachner, Ala-Ruona, Punkanen, & Vanhala, (2008) since music affects the emotional phenomena in patients, it helps in treating some of the areas in the brain that are affected by depression including the frontal regions and the subcortical limbic.

Furthermore, music therapy helps the patients to build relationships, promote proper health and to enable them to use words to express their different feelings. Undoubtedly, Christian also established that analytical music therapy utilizes both word and symbolic music improvisations as a means of exploring the inner life of the affected individual. Upon investigation, the study established that music therapy is effective and enables both the psychological and physical treatment of patients. Therefore, it provides an alternative means of treating the condition with no adverse side effect to the patients.

The report by Leubner & Hinterberger (2017) aimed at establishing the impact of music on the patients suffering from depression before undergoing surgery. Although the study had different challenges, it successfully used both the objective outcome measures and rigorous studies. The research used a total of 90 patients that were divided into two groups. The first group had a total of 48 patients who were subjected to music therapy 30 minutes before the surgery while the second group was made up of 45 patients that were not subjected to the same conditions as their colleagues.

The study also utilized various psychological and behavioral measures of anxiety in the measuring of the responsiveness of the patients to the established environments. Some of these measurement criterions included the blood pressure, heart rate, and electrodermal activities. The evaluation was done before, during and after the surgery. Surprisingly, the group that was subjected to music therapy before the exercise recorded low level of anxiety than their counterparts. The findings revealed that the group under music therapy recorded a decrease in the depression levels by up to 16% compared to that of the controlled group that did not record any significant change. The research also revealed that the controlled group also experienced difficult interactive abilities, as most of their affected brain areas could not function properly. Music helps in the reduction of high levels of anxiety and depression among patients that in turn improves both their psychological and emotional stability thus improving their conditions.

In their article on how relaxing music prevents stress L.W aimed at establishing the impact of music on different anxiety symptoms such as vomiting and headache.  In their previous study, the two researchers determined that while exposure to relaxing music reduced the subjective anxiety, the effect of the same condition was not consistent with various patients. As such, the research proposed to establish the different results of relaxing music on both the subjective and psychological responses of the affected persons. The study further paid more attention to the methodological factors that may affect the outcome and the conclusion of the investigation.

To evaluate the effect of music therapy on depressed individuals, a total of 87 students (44 male and 43female) were exposed to different cognitive stressors tasks that involved the preparation of an oral presentation under various conditions. The conditions included carrying out the performance in silence. The study also applied distinct methods of measuring anxiety that included blood pressure, heart rate, salivary IgA, and cortisol. The measurements of the mentioned determining factors were taken before and after the presentation to assess any significant change that may have been recorded.

Observably, due to the introduction of the stressor, increase in subjective anxiety, systolic increase in blood pressure in both males and female and an equivalent rise in the heart rate. The study also established that the exposure to music reduced the levels of anxiety in the students regardless of their gender.  The success of the study has also demonstrated the availability of other potential variables that may affect the participants.

In addition, the study by Leubner and Hinterberger (2017) that reviewed on the effectiveness of music interventions in the treatment of depression was a different research that enabled the understanding of the various effects music has on patients. The study used utilized randomized controlled study designs and longitudinal studies that helped in establishing the inferences under investigation. In total 28 different studies were carried out and 1810 participants engaged. Different music types also used for the study with an average of 79% of the population is subjected to recorded music while 46% exposed to active singing.

The research established that dementia patients recorded significant emotional and cognitive improvements when they are engaged in active singing or exposed to a familiar song.  As such, different health sectors such as cardiology have adopted this intervention as one of the treatment methods available for their patients. As a therapeutic approach, music was found to have a positive effect on heart surgery patients as it was used in enhancing relaxation during angiography and to decrease the level of anxiety.

Additionally, music was found to improve the quality of sleep among adults suffering from insomnia and increasing verbal memory among children. As such the study by Leubner and Hinterberger (2017) established that music as a means of treating depression was efficient at all levels of people regardless of the age or gender. Additionally, music therapy is not only utilized in the treatment of people suffering from anxiety but also helps in reducing the complication in other chronic diseases such as cancer and heart failure.

Trends, Ideas and Future Questions to Research

From the literature reviewed, it is evident that the use of music therapy is effective. Music therapy turns out to be a vital component in treatment of different conditions. In different areas, the use of music therapy has been employed and improvement associated with it. This showcases how important this method of treatment is. Generally, it can be concluded that music can be employed to increase the quality of life and in the long term reduce the rate of mortality; depending on which areas it is employed.

One of the major trends that has been found with the use of music therapy is the use of the method in addressing mental conditions. Music therapy has been found to be an effective therapy for patients suffering from mental conditions including stress, depression and even anxiety (Jasemi, Aazami, & Zabihi, 2006). As a result, many medical facilities have resulted to the use of music therapy in handling their mental patients.

Consequently, music therapists have been on demand in the market. Since this avenue has not been explored in the past until recently, there have not been many professionals in the field. The few professionals in place therefore have been facing a great task of meeting the great demand for their services across the different facilities (Leubner & Hinterberger, 2017). With music therapy, there is need for the therapist to be there so as to guide the patients through the process. Meeting this demand has therefore being an issue.

As a result, there is need for more professionals in the field. This has resulted to the establishments of institutions of learning where professionals can be trained. In existing institutions, this course has been introduced to ensure that qualified personnel result from the training (Leubner & Hinterberger, 2017). Schools therefore have put in resources to ensure that the course is well supported and all the necessary equipment in place to ensure that the trainees get access to quality.

Future areas of research would include seeking more areas where such therapy can be employed. In most cases, music therapy has been employed to handle mental cases including stress, depression and anxiety. It would be important to find out which other areas it can be employed to maximize its benefits. Additionally, it would be of importance to find out if there are other methods with which it can be used.

Secondly, the globe is shifting to use of technology. Technology has come in to make-work easier and improves efficiency in almost all spheres of life. That being the case, it would be important to see how best technology can be employed in music therapy. Could it be possible to have technology enable therapists attend to a larger number of patients for instance?

Annotated bibliography

Delucia-Waack, J. L., & Gellman, R. A. (2007). The efficacy of using music in children of divorce groups: Impact on anxiety, depression, and irrational beliefs about divorce. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 11(4), 272-282.

This study was aimed at examining the efficacy of using music as an intercession for children of divorce as compared to traditionally used psycho-education. The study predicted that the group of divorce children’s level of depression, anxiety, and irrational beliefs on divorce would be less impacted by psycho-education as compared to music after a follow-up period that lasted three months. According to the findings from the study, both interventions had influence on social and cognitive anxiety and all the beliefs on divorce. However, they were not as effective in giving hope for family reuniting. There was no change in depression, though the study revealed that there was a close relationship between the ability to overcome irrational beliefs on divorce and overcoming depression. The study, therefore, reveals that the current interventions for children of divorce were effective in decreasing the level of irrational beliefs and anxiety. There was also the observation that if there is focus on the reduction of irrational beliefs on divorce, then there is a high possibility of reducing depression.

Erkkilä, J., Gold, C., Fachner, J., Ala-Ruona, E., Punkanen, M., & Vanhala, M. (2008). The effect of improvisational music therapy on the treatment of depression: Protocol for a randomised controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry, 8, 50. http://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244X-8-50.

This study was aimed at examining whether improvisational, psycho-dynamically orientated music therapy in a personal setting can be effective in reducing symptoms of depressions, and subsequently changing the other health-related outcomes of the involved patients. The attention was specified to mediator agents such as intermingling during the session and musical expression. The study also focused on the descriptive potential of EEG recordings for the scrutinizing of music perception that relates to emotions among people with depression. The study engaged 85 adults aged between 18 and 50. The findings from the study were used in the determination of whether emotional experiences that are associated with music as measured by EEG can be used in the determination of the improvement of a client during therapy. The size of the study was sufficient in proving the applicability of its findings in clinical settings. The findings from the study can also be used in seeking further information on music therapy through research. The study was able to prove the hypothesis right thus making it even more instrumental in understanding the effectiveness of music therapy.

Jasemi, M., Aazami, S., & Zabihi, R. E. (2016). The effects of music therapy on anxiety and depression of cancer patients. Indian Journal of Palliative Care, 22(4), 455–458. http://doi.org/10.4103/0973-1075.191823.

The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of music therapy for the control of anxiety and depression among cancer patients. This was a quasi-experimental study that was attached to hospitals in Urmia city. The study involved a total of 60 cancer patients. The results from this study suggested that there was no significant difference in the demographic variable of control groups and intervention. There was a significant decrease in the anxiety level and depression among the patients engaged in the intervention group. There was a further observation of a close association amid depression, anxiety, and sex. There was also a close association amid depression, anxiety, and the level of education. The study concludes that music therapy is of positive impact on the depression and anxiety levels among cancer patients. Therefore, the study recommends the inclusion of music therapy in the management of cancer. The study also recommends further studies that will be aimed at revealing whether the findings will remain if it was carried out with patients suffering from a different disease or condition.

Novotney, A. (n.d.). Music as medicine. Retrieved October 09, 2017, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music.aspx.

This article explored the effectiveness of music therapy in improving the overall health outcome for an individual. The article focused on various health situations such as premature infants and people with depression and Parkinson’s disease to determine the efficiency of music therapy in the improvement of health outcomes. The discussion presented by this article is based on the review of research that had previously carried out on the topic of interest. The article reveals that the impact of music therapy on health outcomes should not be taken for granted. The studies that have been carried out with the intent of determining the relationship between music therapy and positive health outcomes reveal that music therapy is directly proportional to positive health outcomes. The only difference that was noted in the studies is the extent to which music therapy can impact health outcomes. However, this is expected because the studies were carried out in completely different contexts and environments.

Leubner, D., & Hinterberger, T. (2017). Reviewing the effectiveness of music interventions in treating depression. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1109. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01109.

This study aimed at reviewing the effectiveness of music intervention in curbing depression. The rationale for this study was entirely based on the review of studies that have previously been carried out with the intent of determining the effectiveness music intervention as an alternative for treating depression. The study used randomized controlled study designs with the intent of making sure that all factors were taken into consideration when deciding on the sets of data that would be appropriate for this study. According to the findings, there was a high level of efficiency of music intervention in treating depressed individuals despite this intervention being ignored in practice. Findings also suggest that music interventions were not being used as much as they need to be used in the treatment of depression in the modern world. It is also elaborate that the use of music interventions will highly depend on various factors for there to be efficient use in the handling of patients suffering from depression. The conclusion of the research is that music interventions are among the best solutions for depression. However, the conclusion also asserts that many people often underrate music therapy.

Winerman, L. (n.d.). Move to the music. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/05/music.aspx.

This article is based on research that was aimed at uncovering the relationship between beat perception and the motor areas of the brain. The research was intended at using this relationship in the explanation of the effectiveness of music therapy. The article asserts that research on music therapy and how music and beats influence the brain or how the brain reacts to them might be effective in enhancing further understanding of the effectiveness of music therapy. Many people are aware of the fact that music therapy can be effective in the treatment of problems such as anxiety and depression. However, there is not much understanding of how music therapy brings about such change. The assertion made by this article is that if there was understanding on exactly how music influences the brain, then the application of music therapy will be more common. Furthermore, the application of the same will be more evidence-based, thus enhancing the trust in music therapy for the treatment of problems such as anxiety and depression.

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  1. Delucia-Waack, J. L., & Gellman, R. A. (2007). The efficacy of using music in children of divorce groups: Impact on anxiety, depression, and irrational beliefs about divorce. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 11(4), 272-282.
  2. Erkkilä, J., Gold, C., Fachner, J., Ala-Ruona, E., Punkanen, M., & Vanhala, M. (2008). The effect of improvisational music therapy on the treatment of depression: protocol for a randomised controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry, 8, 50. http://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244X-8-50.
  3. Jasemi, M., Aazami, S., & Zabihi, R. E. (2016). The Effects of Music Therapy on Anxiety and Depression of Cancer Patients. Indian Journal of Palliative Care, 22(4), 455–458. http://doi.org/10.4103/0973-1075.191823.
  4. N, A. (n.d.). Music as medicine. Retrieved October 09, 2017, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/11/music.aspx.
  5. Leubner, D., & Hinterberger, T. (2017). Reviewing the Effectiveness of Music Interventions in Treating Depression. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1109. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01109.
  6. W, L. (n.d.). Move to the music. Individual music therapy for depression: randomised controlled trial {, 28. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/05/music.aspx.
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