Effects of Music Therapy on Mood in Stroke Patients

This study was published in 2011 by Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea! It is a private research university, and one of three SKY universities, which are widely regarded as the most prestigious in the country. The purpose of this study was to “investigate the effects of music therapy on depressive mood and anxiety in post-stroke patients and evaluate satisfaction levels of patients and caregivers.”

The study states, “Music therapy appears to affect physiological phenomena such as blood pressure, heartbeat, respiration, and mydriasis as well as emotional aspects such as mood and feelings.” Oxford Dictionary defines mydriasis as the dilation of the pupils of the eyes. Other side effects of music include change of respiratory rhythm, relaxation of muscular stiffness, and decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. 

Robinson states that 32.9-35.9% of post-stoke patients experience depression. Castillo states that anxiety is prevalent in 21-28% of stroke survivors. This can be a consequence of cognitive dysfunction, trouble coping with daily living, or a close relationship to death. Music therapy has the potential to elevate mood for people who experience these symptoms. 

This study provided 40 minutes of music therapy sessions that contained a greeting, musical activities that included respiration and phonation, improvised play, hand bell play, singing, songwriting, and self expression, then a goodbye song was provided. Several instruments were provided during the session. Participants filled out a survey before and after treatment to provide data. 

The research found that anxiety and depression scores decreased after music therapy; mirroring previous studies that music therapy is effective for depression. There was no reporting of significant changes in anxiety or depression from the control group. It can be concluded by this study and others that music therapy is effective and can be used as a treatment to reduce depressed mood or positively affect mood in post-stroke patients. 

By Gwen D’Amico, MT-BC


Castillo CS, Starkstein SE, Fedoroff JP, Price TR, Robinson RG. Generalized anxiety disorder after stroke. J Nerv Ment Dis 1993;181:100–106.

Kim DS, Park YG, Choi JH, Im SH, Jung KJ, Cha YA, Jung CO, Yoon YH.   Effects of Music Therapy on Mood in Stroke Patients.   Yonsei Med J. 2011 Nov;52(6):977-981.   https://doi.org/10.3349/ymj.2011.52.6.977

Robinson RG. Poststroke depression: prevalence, diagnosis, treatment, and disease progression. Biol Psychiatry 2003;54:376–387.