Chances are music has positively impacted your emotional or mental health at one time or another. Maybe your favorite song uplifted your spirit when you were going through a tough time. Or a song from your childhood made you smile from ear to ear. Or perhaps you took up an instrument as a hobby and it greatly impacted your life. A growing body of research shows that music therapy and mental health are connected.
Music is an important outlet for healing, even for mental illnesses. Its expressive, emotional nature can help you become more self-aware and bring about emotions you might be suppressing. If you’ve ever heard a song that evoked your emotions in any way, then you already understand more about music therapy than you might think.
Music therapy has seen an increase in usage over the years. Research shows that it can stimulate mood and imagery that foster emotional and mental health. In fact, plenty of mental health agencies now employ professional music therapists. All signs indicate that this type of mental health will only keep gaining momentum.
Music Therapy And Mental Health
Listening to music has been found to be helpful in reducing your stress and lifting your mood. Plenty of people tap into the therapeutic effects of music by tuning into classical, meditative, or spiritual music when they want to be soothed. Others may turn on a rock song when they want to get pumped up about something. But it doesn’t matter what genre you’re listening to. You can feel happy regardless of what’s playing, as long as it’s interesting to you.
Music is extremely therapeutic. In fact, the American Music Therapy Association states, “Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship.” When music therapy is performed by a professional music therapist, patients have reported a decrease in anger, anxiety, stress, and even depression.
Granted, music therapy sessions alone won’t cure a mental health disorder. Instead, it’s used as part of a multidisciplinary approach to mental health; your mental health team works in conjunction with your individual treatment goals.
Music therapy may help if you suffer from these disorders:
- Personality disorders
- Eating disorders
What Happens During Music Therapy?
Music therapy isn’t simply listening to music. A music therapist may include passive therapy, like listening to music, in their session. But they may also use other interventions, such as writing songs, singing, or playing instruments.
Music therapy has proven to be useful for those struggling with trauma or PTSD. According to a study in the Psychomusicology Journal, music therapy reduces PTSD symptoms and improves day-to-day functioning. Research scientist Adrienna Heinz of the National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder claims that music therapy has the potential to help those struggling with PTSD. She adds, “More specifically, music therapy may be considered a resilience-enhancing intervention, as it can help trauma-exposed individuals harness their ability to recover elements of normality in their life following great adversity.”
Some cultures use particular types of music as a therapy aid. For example, the Chinese medical community believes that the meridian systems of your body resonate with certain musical tones. When your body hears these tones, the vibrations help to heal your internal organs.
Music therapy can also help you expand your social skills and express your feelings. Sometimes, music therapists will use a certain song or genre to help someone contend with trauma or repressed feelings. In many cases, that person may not consciously realize that they have these thoughts or belief patterns.
Music Therapy and Depression
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, clinical depression affects more than 18 million Americans each year. This mood disorder can cause symptoms including:
- feeling hopeless and/or overly tired
- large amounts of grief
- pathological loneliness
- and more
According to music therapists, music therapy can actually increase the effectiveness of various antidepressant medications. For example, if you’re struggling with clinical depression and are also taking antidepressants, regularly listening to therapeutic music at home increases your chances of feeling happier. It can also decrease stress and blood pressure.
Additional correlations between music and health include:
- Music can benefit the heart. Research indicates that blood flow to the heart increases while listening to music you find joyful. In addition, other research has shown that listening to 12 or more minutes of Mozart a few times a week can help decrease blood pressure.
- Joining a music group, such as a choir or band can help you if you struggle with addiction. People who join these groups often find serenity, build social networks, and let go of stress.
- Music therapy can also help those who suffer from depression and anxiety. In fact, research shows that music therapy has a wonderful impact on patients with Alzheimer’s and can help reduce anxiety and depression.
What Does A Music Therapist Do?
A professional music therapist will begin by performing an assessment of your emotional and mental well-being. They work together with the physician and mental health professionals on your treatment team. The music therapist may design sessions that foster better communication skills, social functioning, and mood. They may also incorporate tools like active listening to a song, songwriting, meditative music with imagery, or learning how to play an instrument. The therapist will evaluate outcomes regularly and make changes where applicable.
The results are promising when it comes to the effects of music therapy and mental health. Even if haven’t yet been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, listening to music regularly may boost your mood. Whether it reduces your stress and anxiety or offers a health benefit like lowering blood pressure, music therapy can be a simple and affordable form of treatment. Allow the benefits of music therapy to soothe your soul and heal your body.
Start Your Path to Recovery Today
If you or a loved one are ready to start your path toward a better life, The Woods at Parkside is here to help. Call (614) 471-2552 to speak with one of our treatment specialists and learn more about our programs.