You’ve probably heard the adage that ‘music heals the soul,’ but did you know there is some truth to this belief? It is generally believed since the beginning of time music has been used to help human beings deal with their emotions and bond with one another.
Brain scans have been able to successfully prove music naturally increases neurochemicals in the brain, including ‘feel good’ endorphins such as dopamine, resulting in its addition to many rehabilitation programs. So, listen up and discover what music therapy is and the variety of health benefits associated with it now.
What Is Music Therapy?
Music therapy (MT), also known as active music therapy or passive music therapy depending on which type is administered, has shown incredible promise for improving emotional functions and motor control in patients who may be suffering from numerous diseases or disabilities.
From Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia, musical intervention appears to naturally reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as amplify one’s creativity, and improve communication between patients, their caregivers, and others in their life.
Music therapy is based on a trained musical therapist improvising music with the patient and can be done in a one-on-one setting or groups.
There are two distinct types of music therapy: active and passive.
Active music therapy involves an intense interaction between the therapist and the patient, compared to passive music therapy, where the patient is typically at rest while listening to the therapist.
The Different Kinds of Music Therapy
Specifically, with passive therapy, the therapist begins by playing soothing and calming music that allows the patient to visualize peaceful images and reflect on their thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
In contrast, in most active music therapy sessions, the therapist and patient work together playing instruments and using their voices and bodies to make music, whereas this form is highly interactive for the patient compared to passive music therapy.
The use of instruments in music therapy is organized to involve as many sensory organs as possible, such as touch, sound, and sight. In both forms of therapy, rhythmic and melodic components of music are manipulated to create stimuli to help a patient reveal and deal with specific emotions, such as loneliness, joy, grief, gratitude, sadness, and frustration.
How Music Affects the Brain and Body
Numerous studies have proven music can help relieve stress, decrease symptoms of depression and reduce negative thoughts and states of mind. But how exactly?
The research suggests some of the most significant ways music therapy can help an individual feel better or lower their need for certain prescription medications by increasing their self-acceptance and confidence, self-awareness and expression, stimulation of speech, motor integration, a sense of belonging and community.
Music therapy also improved an individual’s communication and relationships with others, which is significantly connected to happiness.
Although music has been used for centuries due to its healing abilities, one study published in Spirituality and Health, claims science now supports the belief that music should and is being used as a professional form of therapy since the early 2000s.
Health Benefits of Music Therapy
Music has been shown to have a wide variety of health benefits, ranging from increasing one’s mood to reducing feelings of stress and isolation.
Through numerous studies, music therapy has proven to help reduce anxiety and the physical effects of stress, improve and speed up healing time, and can help manage multiple diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
Music therapy also helps to reduce depression, especially in the elderly and decrease the symptoms of psychological disorders such as schizophrenia.
Positive health benefits also include improving one’s self-expression, personal development, learning, self-awareness, and communication abilities, especially for children or adults who have developmental issues such as autism.
Health Benefits Continued
A study published in the Journal of Music Therapy discovered when music was used as an intervention tool for children and teenagers with social and developmental behaviors, such as autism, their attention, focus, communication, and body awareness skills all improved, while their levels of anxiety decreased.
This form of therapy has not only proven to improve a depressed mood but also reduce one’s heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure.
Research has even proven playing music directed at the womb during the third trimester can result in the infant being more responsive to music after birth, while also positively influencing neonatal behavior. These neonatal benefits include an increased weight gain and feeding rates, as well as a reduced heart rate and deeper sleep.
Reducing Anxiety, Depression, And Stress
An article published in the Southern Medical Journal claimed although music is subjective to individual preferences and tastes, music appears to have a direct physiological effect through the nervous system and can cause immediate emotional and motor responses as well.
When instruments are being played, both auditory and tactile stimulation help to produce a state of mental relaxation for the patient, thus easing their symptoms of depression and anxiety.
As a result, music is now used as an alternative natural form of therapy for a multitude of diseases, specifically for those with severe physical and cognitive disabilities, as well as for individuals dealing with severe social anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Music in A Hospital Setting
For instance, music therapy is being used in hospital settings to improve a patient’s healing by reducing their anxiety before procedures or tests, especially for patients who are undergoing cardiac procedures.
Researchers suggest music can positively modify the release of stress hormones beneficial for neurological, respiratory, cardiac, and immune functions necessary for a patient’s healing.
Today, music therapy is highly recommended in geriatric care facilities due to how it helps patients improve their social, intellectual, cognitive, and psychological performance, especially in older adults.
Depression, isolation, boredom, fatigue, and anxiety are common issues geriatric patients deal with, and both active and passive music therapy appear to help with mood improvement, while also providing a sense of comfort and relaxation for the patients, allowing them to feel happier and healthier overall.
There is a divine and exquisite reason we as humans are so drawn to music, as both the mind and body actively respond to it. Crank up your favorite tunes and embrace the power of music and how it can greatly improve your mental and physical health.