Does Music Therapy Improve Anxiety and Depression in Alzheimer’s Patients?

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease can be devastating for both the person affected and their family. While there is much research focused upon curing the disease, research is also being conducted into how to treat the emotional tolls of Alzheimer’s Disease. In the article, “Does Music Therapy Improve Anxiety and Depression in Alzheimer’s Patients?”, Orti, et al look into music therapy as a treatment for some of the emotional symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In this study, twenty-five patients ages sixty-five and older diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease participated in music therapy sessions for sixty minutes once a week. Saliva samples were taken pre and post session to measure cortisol (an indicator of stress levels) and a self-report anxiety and depression scale was also administered.

The music therapy sessions included interventions focused on stimulating cognitive areas of the brain and social/emotional stimulation in order to improve verbal participation, expression of feelings, and interactions with peers. Interventions included remembering/singing lyrics, identifying names of friends, discussion of names of preferred band members, day of the week, discussing favorite seasons, prompts to concentrate/maintain attention on the presented musical task, songs with a theme to help with cognition, etc.

The study found that levels of cortisol decreased (indicating lower levels of stress/depression) and the self-report scale that measured depression showed a statistically significant decrease. This study shows that music therapy can, at least in the short term, can help decrease depression and anxiety in people with Alzheimer’s Disease. This means that music therapy could be a great complementary and non-pharmaceutical treatment for people with Alzheimer’s Disease that are experiencing increased depression and/or anxiety. For more information on music therapy, please continue to or

By Jessica Fletcher, MM, MT-BC

De la Rubia Orti, J., Garcia-Pardo, M. P., Iranzo, C. C., Madrigal, J. C., Castillo, S. S., Rochina, M. J., & Gasco, V. P. (2018). Does Music Therapy Improve Anxiety and Depression in Alzheimer’s Patients? The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 24(1), 33-36.