Music Therapy: Mental HealthCare General Music Therapy as a Treatment for Schizophrenia

Music Therapy as a Treatment for Schizophrenia

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Globally, there are 24 million people with schizophrenia, or 1 out of 300 individuals in every country. This approximates to 0.32% of the worldwide population. In India, the prevalence of schizophrenia is about 3/1000 individuals. That being said, there is plenty we still do not know about it. Because of its rarity, experimental treatments are quite popular. Although there is no cure for Schizophrenia, music therapy acts as a consequence-free treatment and has research backing its success in improving symptoms. Symptoms vary in Schizophrenia patients but commonly consist of delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech. In this regard, music therapy is used to improve emotional and relational abilities and address issues that words alone cannot. It is a form of energy that triggers the brain and soothes the process of recovery. 

What is Schizophrenia?

Less than 1% of U.S. citizens are affected with schizophrenia, a chronic brain condition. Delusions, hallucinations, confused speech, difficulty thinking, and a lack of desire are all possible signs of schizophrenia. The majority of schizophrenia symptoms will significantly improve with therapy, and the risk of a relapse can be reduced. Symptoms of schizophrenia usually first appear in early adulthood and must persist for at least six months for a diagnosis to be made. Men often experience initial symptoms in their late teens or early 20s while women tend to show first signs of the illness in their 20s and early 30s.

What are its Risk Factors? 

Despite the fact that the precise cause of schizophrenia is unknown, a number of potential causes have been identified. It’s crucial to note that while having one or more of these risk factors can raise the likelihood that someone will develop schizophrenia, possessing them does not guarantee that they will

Risk factors of Schizophrenia


  • Genetics: Family history plays a significant role in the risk of developing schizophrenia. If one of the parents or any sibling has the disorder, the risk is higher. However, genetics alone are not sufficient to cause schizophrenia, as many individuals with a family history of the disorder do not develop it.
  • Neurobiological Factors: Brain structure and function abnormalities are associated with schizophrenia. Imbalances in neurotransmitters (such as dopamine) and brain circuitry abnormalities have been implicated in the disorder’s development.
  • Prenatal and Perinatal Factors: Adverse events during pregnancy and birth, such as maternal infections, malnutrition, exposure to stress, and complications during delivery, have been linked to a slightly increased risk of schizophrenia.
  • Environmental Stressors: Exposure to high levels of stress during childhood, adolescence, or adulthood can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, especially in individuals who are genetically predisposed. Traumatic experiences, loss, and chronic stress may contribute.

Role of Music Therapy 

Positive symptoms of schizophrenia, such as lack of motivation, seclusion, and isolation, are improved by music therapy. The negative symptoms of schizophrenia are not well-managed by current antipsychotic medications, and many patients do not adhere to their medication regimens due to unpleasant side effects. Despite inconsistent findings regarding music therapy’s impact on positive symptoms of schizophrenia such as hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thoughts, the study consistently demonstrates that it reduces negative symptoms. 

While music therapy cannot replace conventional medical care, it can be used in conjunction with it to assist persons with schizophrenia live better lives. 

People with schizophrenia may benefit from music therapy to lessen their overall symptoms as well. However, the effects of music therapy seem to depend heavily on the number of music therapy sessions.

  • Emotional Expression and Regulation: For those with schizophrenia, music therapy can offer a regulated, secure atmosphere in which to express their emotions. Making or listening to music can help people process and manage their emotions, which may help them feel less anxious and distressed.
  • Social Interaction: For those with schizophrenia, music therapy can offer a regulated, secure atmosphere in which to express their emotions. Making or listening to music can help people process and manage their emotions, which may help them feel less anxious and distressed.
  • Cognitive Stimulation: Music therapy can engage cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and concentration. Playing musical instruments or engaging in rhythm-based activities may stimulate cognitive processes and improve cognitive flexibility.
  • Reducing Negative Symptoms: Negative symptoms of schizophrenia include reduced emotional expression, social withdrawal, and lack of motivation. Engaging with music, especially rhythm-based activities, can help increase motivation and energy levels.
  • Auditory Hallucinations: Auditory hallucinations, a typical sign of schizophrenia, can be treated with music therapy. People may be able to control and lessen the severity of these hallucinations with the use of controlled exposure to music and the education of coping mechanisms.
  • Enhancing Quality of Life: Participating in music therapy can help people with schizophrenia feel better about themselves and live better lives. Taking part in creative pursuits and enjoying music can improve one’s sense of self and confidence.
  • Stress Reduction: Music has been shown to have a positive impact on stress reduction and relaxation. Engaging in music therapy sessions can help individuals manage stress and anxiety, which are often exacerbated by the challenges of living with schizophrenia.


As a supplemental therapy for people with schizophrenia, music therapy provides a promising and encouraging approach. Although it cannot replace traditional medical treatments, it may have positive effects on emotional expression, social engagement, cognitive stimulation, easing negative symptoms, dealing with auditory hallucinations, improving quality of life, and lowering stress. Individuals can use music in a creative and safe environment during music therapy, which promotes emotional control, social interaction, and cognitive engagement. However, depending on personal preferences, the intensity of the symptoms, and the music therapist’s experience, music therapy may or may not be successful. A more holistic and well-rounded approach to controlling schizophrenia can be achieved by using music therapy in a comprehensive treatment plan along with medication, psychotherapy, and other forms of support.

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