The Healing Power of Music
Lately, my husband has been listening to ambient music by Brian Eno, Stars of the Lid, and some by others. He finds it very calming and thinks it’s helpful for his stress. So, I thought I’d look into how music can help our mental health and wellbeing. I was able to find several different research projects on the topic:
A study presented at the 2020 conference of the American College of Cardiology found that as little as 30 min a day of music lowered pain and anxiety levels in patients who have suffered a heart attack.
The Mayo Clinic found that music will slow people’s heart rate and decrease their blood pressure.
John Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine found that using music to treat people with neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, epilepsy, and strokes can be beneficial.
Other studies show music can be beneficial in the treatment of PTSD, anxiety, mood disturbance, and insomnia.
Music has been shown to increase mental alertness and memory,
Why is Music so Powerful?
There are many different ideas on why music is so powerful in people’s recovery and overall health. I’ve listed several of them below:
1. Music can help us to relate to our memories from the past and by doing so, can connect us with some pretty powerful emotions.
2. Music is helpful in communicating our emotions and memories and a very meaningful way, especially the ones that we have trouble expressing in other ways.
3. Music can help you to moderate the emotions that you're feeling. Depending on what type of music you choose to listen to, it can bring your mood up or it can bring it down. If you’re feeling happy, it can help you to express and celebrate that. Conversely, if you’re feeling sad or down, it can help you to get in touch with that and it may actually magnify your sadness and have a cathartic effect.
4. Music is associated with the release of Dopamine which is the “feel good” neurotransmitter and can help to elevate your mood when you’re feeling sad or depressed.
5. Music is associated with the release of endorphins which again will help to lift your mood and may act as a natural antidepressant.
6. Music is associated with the release of Serotonin which is known as a mood stabilizer explaining how it is helpful for people who have depression or other mood disorders. Serotonin also plays a key role in sleep, digestion, wound healing, bone health, and sexual desire.
7. Music is also associated with the release of Oxytocin which is a hormone associated with empathy and trust. Its main purpose is to help us bond with loved ones and it's known as the “love hormone”.
8. Music helps us to foster and maintain social connections. Think of dancing, singing a longs, karaoke, or singing at your place of worship.
9. Music can help foster creative expression which can be very powerful in lifting mood or improving your self-esteem.
10. Finally, music has been shown to help lower levels of cortisol in your body which will help to lower your stress. Elevated cortisol is also associated with weight gain, especially around your belly so conceivably music may be helpful in weight loss!
How to Use Music to Cope with Depression
I’ve thought of a couple of different ways that you can use music to help you cope with depression and have listed them below. See if you can think of some more to use!
1. Make a playlist to help you get in touch with your feelings
2. If you have trouble concentrating, try listening to classical music while you work
3. Try banging on a drum, piano, or another percussion instrument to help you express your frustration
4. Identify 1 song that puts you in a good mood and play it when you’re feeling down
5. Use music to bring out your feelings when you’re journalling
As you can see, music can be very helpful for people with mood disorders or depression. However, if you need help coping with depression, or are looking for depression treatment, please follow the link for more information. I’d love to hear from you so don’t hesitate to reach out.