Music Therapy – How Can Soothing Melodies Help To Reduce Depression?

Guest Post by: Ralph Macey

Psychotherapy or medication work better for patients having depression when psychiatrists add a dose of music therapy.

Modern music therapy came into existence in 1950 after world war II was over. Many soldiers were unable to function normally in society due to their post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of them were hospitalized. Community musicians started playing music in the hospitals for the soldiers suffering from physical injuries and emotional turmoil. Nurses and PTSD psychiatrists (U.S. link only) observed that patients were giving positive physical and emotional responses after listening to melodious music.

The hospitals started hiring musicians.

What do we mean by music therapy?

It is an effective complementary medical treatment that helps to alleviate depression and anxiety. Certified and trained music therapists help patients with every aspect of their health – both physical and emotional well-being. They compose or perform music in front of the patient alongside the therapist.

Sometimes medical professionals play music to reduce the anxiety of the patients while undergoing a surgery, blood tests, and chemotherapy treatments. Music help to reduce anxiety in kids at the time of immunizations and blood tests.

Types of music therapies

Two types of music therapies are there. First one is active music therapy and the second one is passive music therapy.

(i) Active music therapy: The therapist and the musician compose a music to evoke emotion in the patient. They encourage the patient to share his feelings after listening to music. Usually, the patient develops insight into his problems while listening to music.

(ii) Passive music therapy: Music is played in the background when the patient is doing some kind of activity. For instance, painting something or reading a book. After the music is over, the therapist asks the patient about the feelings and memories evoked by the music.

In what ways does music therapy help to reduce depression?

According to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), music therapy helps to alleviate depression and anxiety. It helps to:

  • Boost self-esteem
  • Give an emotional release
  • Increase motivation
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Lower muscle tension

How does music therapy help to reduce depression?

Studies show that music therapy makes a positive impact on the parts of the brain that manages anxiety and stress. It helps to lower anxiety level in patients having heart disease and enable them to lead a healthy life.

Music therapy also helps to reduce depression. Listening to music helps to increase dopamine and that helps to combat depression.

Music therapy helps to control symptoms of the seasonable affective disorder.

Can music therapy help to endure pain?

Yes. It does help to distract patients from irritation and block pain pathways in the brain. Studies show that music therapy helps to lower pain score in patients with massive pain. It has also been observed that music therapy helps to reduce anti-anxiety medications and alleviate chronic pain like fibromyalgia.

Should pregnant women try music therapy?

Pregnancy is a very tough period for some women and they often suffer from prenatal depression. Psychiatrists say that listening to music therapy CD for 30 minutes every day for 14 days can help to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.

Can music therapy help people with dementia?

Patients with dementia can engage with music in the later stage of the disease also. Music can help to evoke old memories, reduce restlessness, improve communication, and enhance physical coordination in these patients. Music therapy brings an overall improvement in the quality of their life.

How can music therapy help autistic patients?

According to a review published in 2006, music therapy helps to improve communication in autistic children. However, the review also talked about the ‘limited applicability to clinical practice.’ The review concluded that more research is required to know whether or not the effects of music therapy are enduring.


The most important matter is that music therapy has short-term benefits for people suffering from depression when given on top of psychiatric treatment. It activates those parts of the brain that regulate emotions. Both happy and sad music has a different impact on patients. More research is required to determine what type of music therapy suits best for various types of patients. We need to remember that each patient is unique. So music therapy should also be different.

You can always try music therapy if you want to lower your blood pressure or reduce your stress or uplift your mood. Search a certified music therapist in your region. Moreover, the next time you’re involved in a stressful work, use a headphone and analyze if a melodious song helps to reduce your discomfort.

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Richard Bailey

I have suffered from severe chronic depression for just over two decades. I have gone through many treatments and all medications that the Dr.'s I work with have available to them but have been treatment resistant. I hope to help people and inform people on mental health and wellness through this blog.

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