In December 2019 researchers from Poland published their review of the medical scientific literature to assess the effectiveness of music therapy in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. An analysis of six papers listed in the Cochrane database has clearly demonstrated that music had a beneficial effect on relaxation and behavior, as well as cognitive functioning in individuals with dementia. A further 18 studies, involving 1,215 individuals with schizophrenia, showed that music had a positive effect on their general functioning when compared with standard care alone. It was seen that music improved their quality of life and social functioning, as well as reducing the number of auditory hallucinations. The positive effect of music on the brain in schizophrenia was confirmed by an MRI scan. The use of music in the treatment of depression has also been studied. Nine studies, involving 421 individuals, showed that the addition of music therapy to the standard treatment significantly improved the functioning of individuals in the short-term. Music therapy also reduced the accompanying levels of anxiety. However, the long-term impact of additional music therapy has been difficult to assess. One study involving 155 adolescents with symptoms of social anxiety found that adding music therapy to cognitive behavioral therapy was more effective than the use of cognitive behavioral therapy alone. In addition, an analysis of three other studies has shown that music is effective in reducing the severity of symptoms of postnatal depression. It has also been seen that music has a beneficial effect in individuals exposed to severe stress, including those who developed post-traumatic stress disorder. The researchers concluded by stating that music therapy is a valuable and undervalued method of non-pharmacological support for patients with various psychiatric disorders.
Witusik A, Pietras T. Music therapy as a complementary form of therapy for mental disorders. Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2019 Dec 27;47(282):240-243.