Music Therapy: How It Can Help Relieve Anxiety and Depression

Music is a universal language. It has the power to move us, take us back in time, and even soothe our souls. Music therapy is the use of music to help someone improve mental, physical, and emotional health. According to the Music Therapy Association, it’s an “evidence-based clinical practice that uses music intervention to address client needs across a spectrum of general wellness outcomes including stress reduction, improved concentration, enhanced social skills and increased self-awareness.” There are many benefits of music therapy for individuals with anxiety and depression. It has been proven to reduce stress levels and improve one’s mood. According to recent studies by the Center for Suicide Prevention at the University of New Mexico: “the number of adults reporting problems from depression or anxiety jumped from 11% in 2001 to 20% in 2017 — a 125% increase in 17 years.” Keep reading to learn more about what music therapy is and how it can assist you with relieving symptoms of anxiety or depression.

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What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed practitioner who has completed additional training in music therapy. Music therapy can be used to help people express themselves, manage emotions, reduce stress, increase mood and self-esteem, improve sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve the quality of life for people facing health challenges. Music therapy can be provided one-on-one, in a group setting, or even remotely (for example, over the phone) to meet the needs of individuals of all ages and groups.

How Does Music Therapy Help with Anxiety and Depression?

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First, it’s important to note that music therapy is not music therapy if it doesn’t come with a therapeutic approach. This means that in addition to the use of music, music therapists make use of a variety of techniques to facilitate positive change within the client, such as imagery and storytelling, expressive arts, motivational interviewing, and more. All of this, combined with the use of music, is what creates music therapy.

Therefore, music therapy techniques can be different for each patient depending on what he or she most needs. Some music therapy techniques may include:

– Improving Self-Awareness: People who suffer from anxiety may have trouble identifying what they’re feeling. Others may have trouble understanding their feelings. Through the use of expressive arts and creative exercises, people can learn more about themselves and their feelings. This can help people who are dealing with anxiety and depression understand their feelings better.

– Managing Stress: Music and sound have the power to affect our autonomic nervous system. This includes our heart rate, breathing, digestion, and other bodily functions. Some music therapy techniques can help people manage their stress better and reduce cortisol levels.

– Sleep Improvement: Music has been shown to assist with sleep in several ways. It has been shown to assist with falling asleep, staying asleep, and having a deeper level of sleep. Music therapy can be used to help individuals improve their sleep.

How to Practice Music Therapy at Home

If you’re interested in engaging in music therapy at home, there are a few things you can do.

– Listen to Music: One of the simplest and most common ways to use music therapy is to simply listen to music that makes you feel good. Choose songs that help you calm down, get through the day, or that remind you of a happy memory or place.

– Find a Therapy Buddy: You can also try to get a therapy buddy to practice music therapy with you. You can do this with a friend or family member, or even your partner. You can also try joining an online therapy group or website.

– Try Creative Exercises: Creative exercises can often be a part of music therapy. You can try to find creative exercises that work best for you or that you find therapeutic.


Music therapy can be a helpful tool to manage stress and improve the mood associated with anxiety and depression. It’s best to visit a therapist who is trained in music therapy and can help you find the right types of music for you and use music therapy techniques that will best suit your needs. Because it’s an individualized and open-ended process, music therapy can be adapted to suit each person’s needs and goals. Although some people are skeptical of the benefits of music therapy, there is a lot of research out there showing its potential to help individuals with a variety of needs, including anxiety and depression. Whether you’re seeking help for a mental health challenge you’re currently experiencing, or are looking for ways to stay healthy and prevent issues from popping up in the future, music therapy is an option worth exploring with your therapist.

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