What music do you love? Classical? Rap? Hip-hop? Trance? Many people around the world enjoy listening to music, and it’s one of the most popular hobbies around the world. Millions of people spend their day listening to music, but only few know the power of music. Music improves mood, suppresses negative emotions, relaxes, and relieves stress. Also, music can help cure mental and even physical disease! Recovery is facilitated by both listening to music and playing musical instruments.
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Is Music Treatment an Effective Means for Mental Diseases as an Additional Therapy?
Music therapy is the clinical use of music to influence the psyche and the human body, which is conducted by a certified specialist. The music therapist uses music within the framework of therapeutic relationships to improve the physical, mental and emotional state, as well as meeting the communicative, cognitive and social needs of clients. Musical therapy was formed at the intersection of psychology, music, medicine, and pedagogy and is used to date in the treatment of various diseases. Music therapy as an additional method in some cases can be useful in alleviating the symptoms of mental illnesses such as autism, depression, and schizophrenia, but such studies require confirmation in the form of longer-term effects of improving the patient’s well-being.
The use of music as a medical practice was used in ancient times, for example in China, India, and Greece. In the 17-18 century, there were ideas about the use of music with a therapeutic purpose. German scholar A. Kircher put forward a mechanistic theory, the essence of which was that music, causing physical and chemical changes in the body, contributes to recovery. In the nineteenth century, the impact of music on the human body began to be studied as a scientific method. Music therapy in its modern form took shape in the first half of the twentieth century, especially after Second World War. In 1944 the first set of students for the specialty “musical therapist” was opened at the University of Michigan. Thus, music therapy has a long history, and its final designation as a medical method occurred in the twentieth century.
Music therapy can be used in the treatment of certain mental illnesses as an additional method of treatment. This method can be applied to everyone regardless of age, health status, and musical abilities. In the treatment of mental illnesses, a passive and active form of musical therapy is singled out. With a passive form, the patient is offered to listen to various musical works that correspond to the patient’s psychological health and the strategy of his therapeutic process. The purpose of this form of music therapy is relaxation, as well as the challenge of a specific emotional experience, which should contribute to the achievement of new meanings. With active musical treatment, the patient participates in the creation of a musical work, using various musical instruments, both standard and homemade. Also, singing can be used, which can be a useful method for treating people with speech disorders, as well as improving articulation, rhythm and breath control.
First, music therapy can be useful in alleviating the symptoms of autistic spectrum disorder. Autism is a violation of mental development, which is characterized by motor and speech disorders and leads to a violation of social interaction. According to some studies, music therapy as an additional method can be efficient with some signs of autism, also improving the overall condition of the patient. Musical therapy in children with autism promotes the development of motor skills and coordination, which makes it possible to control the processes of mental inhibition and stimulation (Whipple, Jennifer). Music therapy encourages the development of spatial coordination. Also, according to some studies, it was proved that music therapy promotes the development of speech skills, emotional responsiveness and helps in overcoming communicative and behavioral problems (Wigram, T., and C. Gold). However, studies conducted by Norwegian scientists have shown that music therapy does not have a significant effect on improving the condition of patients with autism (Bieleninik, Lucja et al.).In this study, 364 children aged four to seven years who had been diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder participated. In this study, music therapy was used as an additional method of treatment. After five months of the research, the status of each subject was assessed, and the results showed no statistically significant difference between the condition before and after therapy. Thus, the results of the study showed that the use of music therapy does not have a positive effect on the state of patients with autism spectrum disorder (Bieleninik, Lucja et al.).It should be noted that such differences in the results indicate a lack of study of the effectiveness of this method of therapy, which requires more research on this topic in the future.
Secondly, the use of music therapy as an additional method of treatment can alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. Depression is a mental disorder characterized by the presence of symptoms such as mood reduction, impaired thinking, and motor retardation. The results of one study conducted in Belfast showed that music therapy positively affects the relief of certain symptoms of depression in children and adolescents (Porter, Sam et al.). In this experiment, 250 children and adolescents who had symptoms of depression were involved. Music therapy was used as an additional method in conjunction with traditional methods of treating this mental disorder. The results of the study showed that the conduct of music therapy helped alleviate some of the symptoms of depression, the subjects improved communicative and interactive skills, and also overcome some emotional and behavioral problems (Porter, Sam et al.). The results of other studies conducted on this topic also showed improvement in the condition of patients, in particular, mood improvement and emotional response (Maratos, Anna et al.). However, it is worth noting that in these studies only short-term positive effects of music therapy on people with the depressive disorder have been studied. Thus, music therapy can alleviate some of the symptoms of depression and improve the general condition of a patient with a depressive disorder, but this topic requires more research to identify the long-term effects of music therapy.
Thirdly, music therapy can have a positive effect in the treatment of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by mental disorders, changes in self-awareness, and emotional disturbances. A study on this topic has shown that the use of music therapy in combination with standard methods of treatment helps improve the overall condition of patients, reduce their social isolation, improve communication skills, and increase the level of interest in the events of the outside world (Talwar, Nakul et al.). Researchers note that the effect of music therapy depended on the number of sessions, as well as the quality of the treatment. In the study, it was noted that music therapy could enhance the motivational properties of the personality, and also enhance the emotionally expressive qualities of patients for whom oral therapy is ineffective. In the treatment of schizophrenia, a passive approach with listening to music can be used, as well as an active approach when the patient creates music himself. In addition to, music therapy can be conducted in individual and group forms. Other studies have also confirmed the positive effect of music therapy on improving the condition of patients with the schizophrenic disorder, but it should be noted that the positive effects were short-term or medium-term (Geretsegger, Monika et al.). Thus, music therapy can be an effective additional method in the treatment of schizophrenia, but this topic requires an expansion of the number of studies.
Theoretical analysis of the studies shows that the effectiveness of the use of music therapy as an additional method of treating mental disorders is not fully proven since there are studies that show no positive effect on the condition of patients. It is worth noting that all studies have studied short-term or medium-term effects, but studies that study long-term effects are quite small. In general, it is proved that music therapy helps develop social skills, improve the emotional sphere, develop concentration, large and small motor skills and coordination of movements. The use of music therapy in the treatment of mental disorders should be used only by a highly qualified specialist with relevant experience.
In conclusion, music therapy is a therapeutic method that involves sensory stimulation through music. The use of music therapy as a therapeutic method existed in ancient times, but it became the most common in the twentieth century and survived in this form to this day. Music therapy can take place in a passive form when the patient listens to specially selected music, or in an active form when the patient creates music himself. The results of the research show that music therapy can be an effective additional method for treating psychiatric disorders such as autism, depression, and schizophrenia in the short and medium term, but it requires more research to identify long-term effects.
Bieleninik, Lucja et al. “Effects Of Improvisational Music Therapy Vs Enhanced Standard Care On Symptom Severity Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder.” JAMA, vol 318, no. 6, 2017, p. 525. American Medical Association (AMA), doi:10.1001/jama.2017.9478.
Geretsegger, Monika et al. “Music Therapy For People With Schizophrenia And Schizophrenia-Like Disorders.” Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews, 2017, Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1002/14651858.cd004025.pub4.
Maratos, Anna et al. “Music Therapy For Depression.” Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews, 2008, Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1002/14651858.cd004517.pub2.
Porter, Sam et al. “Music Therapy For Children And Adolescents With Behavioural And Emotional Problems: A Randomised Controlled Trial.” Journal Of Child Psychology And Psychiatry, vol 58, no. 5, 2016, pp. 586-594. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1111/jcpp.12656.
Talwar, Nakul et al. “Music Therapy For In-Patients With Schizophrenia.” The British Journal Of Psychiatry, vol 189, no. 5, 2006, pp. 405-409. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.105.015073.
Whipple, Jennifer. “Music In Intervention For Children And Adolescents With Autism: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal Of Music Therapy, vol 41, no. 2, 2004, pp. 90-106. Oxford University Press (OUP), doi:10.1093/jmt/41.2.90.
Wigram, T., and C. Gold. “Music Therapy In The Assessment And Treatment Of Autistic Spectrum Disorder: Clinical Application And Research Evidence.” Child: Care, Health And Development, vol 32, no. 5, 2006, pp. 535-542. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2214.2006.00615.x.