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A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Music Therapy Research Dissertation on Depression

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A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Music Therapy Research Dissertation on Depression

Depression is an increasingly prevalent mental health disorder in modern society. People living with depressive disorders experience emotional, social, and neurological issues that restrict their functioning. Over the last two decades, new treatments have been developed which effectively reduce symptoms of depression while improving patients’ quality of life. Music therapy has emerged as one such promising approach.

This paper seeks to investigate the effectiveness of improvisational music therapy in treating depression. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies comparing improvisational music therapy with standard care, with their effects assessed using standardized mean difference (SMD) models.

We identified seven RCTs that evaluated music therapy as a treatment for depression. These trials took place across different countries with diverse populations; most focused on elderly individuals; however, one study included young adults as well.

Our meta-analysis revealed that music therapy does reduce depression, with an effect comparable to standard care. However, due to its small sample size and low test power as well as methodological shortcomings such as allocation concealment, masking, and randomisation, this result should be interpreted with caution.

Furthermore, the theories underpinning music therapy are often unclear. Therefore, further research should address these issues.

Over the last few years, there has been an exponential growth in clinical trials examining music therapy with adults of working age suffering from depression. Most of these trials are randomised controlled trials which means participants were randomly allocated to receive either music therapy or standard care. Furthermore, these studies utilized various outcome measures to assess its effects.

Some of the theories behind music therapy revolve around music listening and active music-making, which are believed to promote psychosocial development and self-acceptance. Furthermore, these methods draw from cognitive-behavioural theory which has long been considered a viable treatment option for depression.

To determine whether improvisational music therapy is an effective intervention for depression, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. We identified five RCTs with adequate methodological quality. Comparing music therapy to standard care, we observed that music therapy reduced depression symptom severity which was also linked to improvements in mood and functional status.

We also discovered that improvisational music therapy is an effective and acceptable form of treatment for depression. This may be because it involves nonverbal communication, allowing clients to process their feelings through music-making, listening, as well as other musical aspects.

Throughout improvisational music therapy sessions, clients were encouraged to listen to recordings of their own performances at home. These recordings served as a resource for discussing therapeutic themes during therapy sessions and provided the therapists and clients with an opportunity to reflect upon these recording experiences during follow-up discussions after the therapy ended.

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