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Exploring the Power of Music Therapy in Easing Anxiety and Depression

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Exploring the Power of Music Therapy in Easing Anxiety and Depression

Mental health is an important part of our total health. Certain mental health conditions, specifically anxiety and depression, are two common conditions that continue to grow in prevalence year after year. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned since these conditions affect around 700 million people around the world. Anxiety and depression can both be debilitating and create issues in daily life for people struggling with them, such as interference in school, work, and relationships. Fortunately, emerging treatments, such as music therapy, can provide non-invasive and cost-effective options for individuals with these disorders. This article aims at providing some insights into the value of music therapy in mental health, including the mechanism of action and how this therapy is implemented as music can be a hopeful treatment choice.


Understanding Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, fear, and apprehension. It can cause various symptoms, such as sweating, rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, feeling weak or tired, nervousness, and difficulty concentrating. It can be expected during times of stress, or it can present more chronically, affecting an individual's daily activities and occurring in approximately 30% of adults at some time in their life.

Depression is another mental health condition affecting how someone feels and thinks. For example, it can affect their life activities such as personal relationships, work, and even enjoying different parts of life. This medical condition is characterized by a persistent loss of interest in daily activities and decreased mood, significantly impacting overall everyday life. It can present in various persistent symptoms such as sleep disturbances, appetite changes, chronic fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. It can also lead to increased thoughts of self-harm. There are an estimated 25 million adults and teens in the US that have this disorder annually.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy, as defined by AMTA (American Music Therapy Association), uses evidence-based music interventions in the clinical setting. These interventions should be completed by an approved credentialed professional. The elements of their therapy include establishing a therapeutic relationship with individuals and accomplishing their specific goals. This therapy can be applied to the mental health setting and impact emotions through promoting wellness, managing stress, improving memory and communication, and expressing feelings.

Benefits of Music Therapy in Managing Anxiety

A meta-analysis of 1649 studies indicated that music therapy can be used to reduce anxiety symptoms and depression in adults. This analysis revealed that music therapy helped with physical and mental relaxation, promoting overall well-being. This therapy allows patients to get in touch with their emotions and encourages interpersonal relationships with their therapists. It can provide distraction and improve communication to overcome barriers and limitations, making music therapy effective in managing anxiety.

Benefits of Music Therapy in Managing Depression

A meta-analysis of music therapy and depression revealed that music can be beneficial in alleviating depressive symptoms. Music therapy was a valuable tool in conjunction with treatment as usual (TAS) in modulating moods and emotions. It also showed that it effectively improved functioning and anxiety levels in people with depression. In a cancer study, music therapy demonstrated a reduction in depression and anxiety as a non-invasive method. Medications are often used in cancer patients with depression. However, they can come with many side effects on the patient's mind and can create drug dependence. Therefore, music therapy shows promising benefits as a non-drug method in cancer patients to alleviate symptoms of depression.

Mechanisms of Action in Music Therapy

There is increasing evidence that the use of clinical musical therapy can have beneficial effects on the brain. The neurological and physiological impact includes engaging the brain centers involved in emotion, motivation, cognition, and motor functions. This therapy can improve socialization, emotional and neuromotor functioning. Music therapy can activate the limbic system, the reward and pleasure centers of the brain, thus positively impacting mood and promoting social cohesion, communication, and relationships. This therapy can improve the psychosocial aspects of people struggling with mental health disorders and effects their overall emotional well-being by activating these various brain processes.

Implementing Music Therapy Techniques

Qualified music therapists will utilize various effective techniques in their sessions with people with anxiety and depression. Firstly, they must assess each individual's needs and strengths, including discussing their emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, cognition, trauma history, and physiological responses. They may also discuss whether the patients have musical backgrounds and preferences. After this assessment, the therapist will collaborate with the patient on goals and then create the appropriate music therapy. These sessions can be done in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, mental health centers, clinics, and patients' homes. They can be done individually or in groups and can involve creating music, singing favorite pieces of music, or listening and moving to music. They may also discuss the lyrics in music or use instruments.

Regarding depression, music therapy may also be combined with other therapies, including psychological or pharmacological. These techniques all depend on the individual's preferences and abilities. That is why the prior assessment is essential in determining the proper musical therapy program.

Future Directions and Research for Music Therapy

As the research suggests, music therapy can be a beneficial option in treating conditions such as anxiety and depression, emphasizing its importance in continued research and increased usage. The AMTA is leading the way in the future direction of research in music therapy and expanding its use in various conditions. The future direction focuses on consumer impact and their collaboration, clinician involvement that includes a team of clinician scholars, diverse methodologies, further developing the theory, growing research, and expanding partnerships. Ultimately, the future of music therapy is to integrate research into the essential functions and increase access to the quality of music therapy services that benefit the clients and families who need it.



Anxiety and depression can often be debilitating for people when it occurs chronically, resulting in decreased daily function and enjoyment in life. Thankfully, there are many effective interventions for improving these conditions. One such intervention is music therapy. This intervention done in a clinical setting can support psychological, emotional, physical, social, and cognitive functions leading to decreased anxiety and depression. Music therapy holds promise as an effective stand-alone or adjunctive treatment for mental health, allowing individuals with these conditions to thrive.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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