One of the promising methods of restoring, strengthening, and preserving a person’s physical and mental health in the treatment of several mental disorders, such as depression, is music therapy. The medical influence of music on a person was noted many thousands of years ago. Guided application of music in therapy and recovery of patients struggling with somatic and mental diseases is widely used in many countries to treat and prevent various disorders.
Music therapy is one of the most interesting and still poorly studied areas of traditional medicine. The therapeutic effect of this technique is based on the frequency oscillation of musical sounds that resonate with individual organs, systems, or the entire human body as a whole. Landis-Shack et al. (2017) point out that “music therapy may be a useful therapeutic tool to reduce symptoms and improve functioning among individuals with trauma exposure and PTSD” (p. 334). Music therapy has several main therapeutic effects, such as emotional activation during verbal psychotherapy, development of interpersonal communication skills, and increased aesthetic needs.
Emotional unloading and control of the emotions are the main aspects of the music’s influence on the body. It also facilitates awareness of one’s experiences, confrontation with life problems, increasing social activity, and acquiring new emotional expression. It also provokes the emotions of safety, continuity, and stability (Kruger et al., 2018). Depending on the activity of patients and on the degree of their participation in the music therapy process, music therapy can be used in different forms. It can be passive or receptive when offered only to listen to music and active when patients actively express themselves in music.
In addition, several studies show that tunes as a way of treating diseases can be utilized to cure drug addiction. Even though it might not be as effective as in cases of depression, studies pointed to the positive impact of therapy with music, particularly on motivation, improvement of emotional state, and compliance (Hohmann et al., 2017). Furthermore, Carter and Panisch (2020) write that the analysis of lyrics can benefit substance users as they can “address the negative or harmful behaviors associated with their lifestyle as they relate to the lyrics of popular songs” (p. 2). Nevertheless, it was also emphasized that there are few studies on medical therapy and substance use disorders, and its result was inconsistent.
Previously, it was believed that only instrumental music has a relaxing effect. This type of music, in which there are no vocal parts, has healing properties. The sounds of nature can also be safely used for relaxation and stress relief in patients since these sounds are familiar to the human brain. It is also believed that Chinese traditional music has a significant effect on music therapy. This musical direction is distinguished by the absence of semitones, which removes tension in the sound and makes it calmer. However, the impact of listening to exceptional music on the treatment of depression deserves further study since there is not enough information about which genre helps better.
Therefore, music in the course of therapy can help to form images that can serve as transitional objects between the patient and the world, as well as the patient and the therapist, with whom there was a designation of these images, discussion and understanding of the role of images, experience, and acceptance of reality. Treatment and therapy based on musical compositions are a significant non-pharmacological way to combat the disease, which is used to treat mental and behavioral disorders (Tang et al., 2020; Wang & Agius, 2018).
However, other works demonstrate no impact or short‐term outcomes of musical treatment on people with doldrums or drug abuse (Aalbers et al., 2017). Li et al. (2019) and Ogba et al. (2019) emphasize that such a type of treatment without an exceptional music therapist does not considerably decrease depression. Nonetheless, patients with dementia might have better results when undergoing music-based therapy.
Thus, despite music therapy’s positive impact and effectiveness, it cannot be used as a full-fledged treatment method and, thus, can only be used as a short-term method of treatment. It is useful; it helps to influence the patient without using any medications, but not so much as to completely cure the disease. However, music therapy can be implemented as a valuable supplement to the main methods of treatment. It is worth noting that the appearance of problems or the development of diseases is not a prerequisite for music therapy. People can involve it in their lives to maintain general tone, pleasure, or entertainment. It is worth noting that no opposing views were found during the study that would be so convincing as to completely refute the effectiveness of music therapy.
Aalbers, S., Fusar‐Poli, L., Freeman, R. E., Spreen, M., Ket, J. C., Vink, A. C., Maratos, A., Crawford, M., Chen, X., & Gold, C. (2017). Music therapy for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (11). Web.
Carter, T. E., & Panisch, L. S. (2020). A systematic review of music therapy for psychosocial outcomes of substance use clients. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.
Hohmann, L., Bradt, J., Stegemann, T., & Koelsch, S. (2017). Effects of music therapy and music-based interventions in the treatment of substance use disorders: A systematic review. PloS One, 12(11).
Kruger, V., Nordanger, D. Ø., & Stige, B. (2018). Music therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 18(4).
Landis-Shack, N., Heinz, A. J., & Bonn-Miller, M. O. (2017). Music therapy for post-traumatic stress in adults: a theoretical review. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 27(4), 334-342.
Li, H. C., Wang, H. H., Lu, C. Y., Chen, T. B., Lin, Y. H., & Lee, I. (2019). The effect of music therapy on reducing depression in people with dementia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Geriatric Nursing, 40(5), 510-516.
Ogba, F. N., Ede, M. O., Onyishi, C. N., Agu, P. U., Ikechukwu-Ilomuanya, A. B., Igbo, J. N., … & Ugwoke, S. C. (2019). Effectiveness of music therapy with relaxation technique on stress management as measured by perceived stress scale. Medicine, 98(15).
Tang, Q., Huang, Z., Zhou, H., & Ye, P. (2020). Effects of music therapy on depression: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PloS One, 15(11).
Wang, S., & Agius, M. (2018). The use of music therapy in the treatment of mental illness and the enhancement of societal wellbeing. Psychiatria Danubina, 30(7), 595-600.