Can Music be an Effective Way to Treate Mental Illness?

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Music has been used to soothe the soul for centuries. It was first officially used during the 1940s with WW2 patients suffering from severe PTSD. Local bands and musicians began to visit the hospitals, and a positive reaction was noticed from the patients. It was so effective that the hospital began to hire musicians. The music allowed the patient to have a safe emotional release, and it helped increase their self-esteem. There are plenty of cases and studies where music has been used as an addition to traditional therapy and has had successful results.

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Plenty of people attest to the effectiveness of music therapy as a form of additional treatment.

Music Therapy as an Adjunctive Treatment

Music used, as an additional source of therapy, is used as a tool to help people with many different mental illnesses. Music is proven to do things like to reduce muscle tension, increase motivation, and enhance interpersonal relationships. One of the main mental illnesses that music is used to treat is anxiety and depression. People suffering from these illnesses can use music as an additional form of therapy along with their regular treatment. Music therapy is usually either active or passive. Active music therapy is where the patient composes music and uses musical instruments while being encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings as they are making the music. This type of musical therapy helps provide the patients with a good form of emotional release as well as helps them develop insight into their problems or feelings. The other type of musical therapy is passive. Passive music therapy is where the patient listens to music while doing things like drawing, meditating, or some sort of reflective activity. Patients are then encouraged to talk about what thoughts or emotions were evoked by the music they listened to. Many people participate in receiving music therapy as a treatment. With more people endorsing the therapy, there is more evidence to further prove its effectiveness of it.

Scientific Studies Backing Music Therapy

A 2011 study by the British Journal of Psychiatrists found that when exposed to music as a form of therapy, general functioning improved. 79 people between the ages of 18 and 50 with depression were tested. 46 participants received standard care, while the other 33 received the same standard treatment as well as music therapy sessions. After three months, the participants that were treated with standard care showed great improvement. There are countless studies performed to prove the same point that music can be used to help people with mental illnesses. Any doubts that someone might have about the authenticity of music therapy will quickly be dispelled once they see the amount of scientific data backing up music therapy.

The evidence is one thing, but testimonials from real people are another. There are plenty of people that have tried music therapy. What do they think about it? One man, who had the honor of visiting a patient receiving music therapy at the end of her life, said this “Music therapists—and all members of the hospice interdisciplinary team—help provide peace to patients and families at the end of life.” This is just one of many testimonials. Music therapy has helped countless amounts of people and will continue to do so as long as people need help.

Longstanding Practice and Global Impact

Music therapy is not new. Music has been used for centuries as a way to bring people together and help soothe the soul. Many people from around the world with an array of different mental illnesses have used music therapy to help them in their path forward. Music therapy has been researched to ensure its effectiveness, and if that isn’t enough, then you can just ask the many people whom it has helped.

Works Cited

    1. Erkkilä, Jaakko, et al. “Individual music therapy for depression: randomised controlled trial.” The British Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 199, no. 2, 2011, pp. 132-139. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.085431.
    2. Landis-Shack, Nora, et al. “Music Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress in Adults: A Theoretical Review.” Psychomusicology, vol. 27, no. 4, 2017, pp. 334-342.
    3. Guétin, Stéphane, et al. “Effect of music therapy on anxiety and depression in patients with Alzheimer’s type dementia: randomised, controlled study.” Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, vol. 28, no. 1, 2009, pp. 36-46.
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Can Music Be an Effective Way to Treate Mental Illness?. (2023, Jun 18). Retrieved from