Music Therapy for Mood and Neurological Disorders

Mood disorders are a cause of disability across the world, and their prevalence is increasing rapidly through time. They can be debilitating for the people whom they affect, and can control one’s life. There are treatments for mood disorders, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for depression which maintain a greater concentration of serotonin in the brain, or dialectical behavior therapy for borderline personality disorder. However, there is presently no known cure. These conditions are often comorbid with neurological conditions, such as stroke, Parkinson’s, or multiple sclerosis. Research interests for mood disorders right now are focused on therapy and working with neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, etc., and adjusting how heavily they are expressed in order to achieve a response. Another current interest is art therapy, with a subfield being music therapy. The World Journal of Psychiatry (WJP) explained in 2015: “Given that music engages a variety of brain areas involved in emotion, motivation, cognition, and motor functions, musical interventions have been used to increase socialization and cognitive, emotional, and neuromotor functioning” (Raglio et al., 2015). Music has been shown to engage a variety of brain regions which is leading scientists to believe that it has the potential to treat a multitude of conditions in the brain. The WJP goes on to explain the results of their study on patients with neurological disorders “other than stroke and dementia”: All studies but one [83] reported positive effects of music therapy on outcomes as mood, depression, anxiety, and quality of life” (Raglio et al., 2015). Furthermore, as the WJP goes on to say about its study: “simple music listening interventions don’t require neither a specifically trained therapist nor a direct therapeutic relationship with the patient being that beneficial effects are induced by the content of the musical stimuli and by the activity of listening itself” (Raglio et al., 2015).  Personally, I can understand the effects of music therapy on neurological disorders and music on the mood. I, myself, have struggled with mood disorders for essentially my whole life, and have been drawn to music, possibly even addicted at times. But, I never knew why. I can feel my symptoms lessen as I listen to any kind of music, and I can feel my mood change to match the stimuli with which I am presented. I’ve paid so much attention to it at this point, that sometimes I almost believe I can feel the shift in neurotransmitter concentrations in my brain when it happens. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself though, oops! I’ve also gotten to know many people with neurological conditions, such as my boyfriend of a year and a half, who has Tourette’s syndrome. He uses music as a distractor from his tics, and he says it improves his focus and his mood as well, which can be negatively affected by having constant tics. Overall, music is a current coping mechanism for various mood and neurological disorders, and is in the process of being researched further in order to be used professionally in therapeutic settings.

My boyfriend and me at a concert last year.

Raglio, A., Attardo, L., Gontero, G., Rollino, S., Groppo, E., & Granieri, E. (2015, March 22). Effects of music and music therapy on mood in neurological patients. Retrieved May 07, 2020, from

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lydia Zhang says:

    I personally really like music. Although I did not have a mood disorder, I like listening to music when I am down. I didn’t know it was an actual therapy and it is interesting that music would heal people. I believe it will become more powerful for people who need it.

  2. Lyla Patel says:

    This is a really interesting subject, because based off my experience naturally even if I feel sad or tired, as soon as I play some upbeat music my mood dramatically changes. I wonder if certain types of music tend to be a mood booster compared to others, based on the fact that it also works the opposite for me. For example, if I listen to some sad or slower music, my mood levels tend to come down and drop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *