Music Therapy as Treatment for Depression and ADHD

With origins believed to date back as early as Aristotle and Plato, music therapy has become an alternative to traditional cognitive and behavioral therapies. Michigan State University developed the first college curriculum in 1944 in response to a positive impact music therapy had on veterans of WWI and WWII. Music therapy successes are based on the utilization of creative lyrics, in addition to harmony, to stimulate the senses of a patient. In doing so, music therapy provides an impact to the physical, cognitive, emotion and social well-being. More recently, music therapy has begun to incorporate into the treatment of eating disorders, ADHD and depression with a benefit exhibited to both genders and across various age groups.

In the treatment of depression, music therapy provides spoken words in addition to harmony in an effort to provide inspiration and promote wellness. Music therapy alleviates pain and promotes calmness by slowing the heart rate and other bodily functions. It is through the therapy that a patient will feel more adept to expressing emotion and begin to feel a motivation to fight against the disease.

In addition to depression, music therapy is also used to treat patients suffering from eating disorders. Musical collaborations downplaying society’s focus on external appearance are just one avenue of therapy utilized. Additionally, by using soft, slow music, the patient is able to better manage stress and anxiety associated with compulsions to overeat. It is through music therapy that a patient may begin to divert thoughts of food to thoughts of relaxation thereby awakening internal coping mechanisms.

For a child suffering from ADHD, the use of music therapy, in combination with medications, may provide the premier in treatment options. While most children require the use of creative avenues of therapy, lyrical music enables a child to view another individual’s expression of frustration and listen to thoughts relating to the consequences when making irrational life decisions. Additionally, the music therapy can provide a calming, sedative affect and assist a child with focusing on the task at hand.

Some common misconceptions about music therapy may be impeding the program’s success. For example, there is a common misconception that one must have musical talent to benefit from music therapy which is not an accurate statement. In fact, most patients receiving music therapy can not read sheet music nor carry a tune. Secondly, no style of music is better than another. In fact, several combinations of music may be used as part of a therapy program and, as a general rule, the patients needs and circumstances will dictate what type of music is utilized. And, finally, while most insurance companies have been slow to respond to the successfulness of the program, Medicare does acknowledge “active” music therapy as a reimburseable expense under the Partial Hopsitalizations Program.

In treating a child, or an adult, with an eating disorder, depression or even ADHD, music therapy has widely become a popular and creative alternative to traditional therapy programs. Whether suffering from a mental disorder or simply need an avenue for relaxation and calmness, consider daily sessions of twenty minute music therapy as an alternative to traditional therapy programs.

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