As far as I know, there are very few people who genuinely do not enjoy music.
I am not talking about those who prefer one type of music over another, but rather the ones that just hate it altogether.
At least, I haven’t really known many people like that.
It isn’t wrong to assume that those who enjoy music listen to it often, and indeed they do,.
In many neighborhoods, it is not uncommon to hear the sounds of screeching songs in the middle of the night.
Goes to show you how much people enjoy music, I suppose.
If anything, all of these parties are just proving that music can affect one’s mood.
Still, the fact that music is capable of that just raises the question: Can it do anything about depression?
And as it turns out, it can!
Music as a form of healing
Before we get into all of the pros and cons of music as a form of therapy, there is some noteworthy background to the subject.
The idea that music possesses healing properties can be traced all the way back to ancient mythology.
In the Bible, for example, King David’s harp was described to have been used to fight his despair when faced with king Sauls tyrannies.
In mythology, the god of music, Apollo, just so happened to be the god of healing as well.
To put it simply, humans have viewed music as a form of healing for centuries now.
The idea resurfaced in western civilization after world war 2, when countless soldiers were faced with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
In order to aid them, many musicians and local artists have arrived to support them with their melodies and songs.
The doctors, who began noticing the positive effects of these songs and melodies, started hiring musicians in an attempt to treat their patients better.
In light of these successes, the first academic institution for music therapy was founded, creating an actual standard for music therapy and turning it into a science.
As it is, humans believed in the healing properties of music for many years now, but this belief was only reinforced by a scientific method very recently.
Music Therapy: How does it work?
The premise is simple enough.
Music therapy breaks down into two different types: active music therapy and receptive music therapy.
- Active music therapy has the practitioner and the patient compose a melody using either a tool or their vocal cords. The goal is to have the patient share their thoughts and feelings through music.
- Receptive music therapy, on the other hand, has the patient listen to music as a part of other relaxation exercises, to be used more as an add-on rather than a sole method.
To put it simply, the two types of music therapy are all about one thing: expression.
The idea is that music allows one to express themselves nonverbally, something which is particularly useful when dealing with depressed people.
They have the tendency to be more than a tad shut off.
Sharing these musical experiences is the next step towards opening up, which is why so many therapists choose to discuss music in their sessions.
This works just as well as a simple listening exercise.
The simple act of listening to music can be very relaxing and can be extremely beneficial when dealing with stress.
Music therapy can relieve stress
One study from 2013 has attempted to prove just that.
The 60 volunteers were split into three groups: One group was exposed to relaxing music, the other to the sound of rippling water and the third was told to simply rest.
These participants were later exposed to a psychological stress test and had their stress levels measured.
According to the results, the participants from groups one and two were noted to be overall less stressed.
The thing is, stress is very closely related to depression and anxiety – so, at the very least, these findings are noteworthy.
Furthermore, they actually show us that the premise behind music therapy isn’t faulty.
But does it work specifically for depression and anxiety? Does it do anything else aside from decreasing stress?
After all, stress isn’t the only cause of depression or anxiety, altough it is a major one.
As it turns out, music therapy has many positive effects on the body and the mind.
Not just ones that are related to stress management.
Music therapy is healthy for you
As it turns out, the American Music Therapy Association is quite the organization.
On their website they have dedicated a variety of pages linking to and expanding upon a variety of studies.
Many of these studies actually deal with the effects of music therapy on mental health.
Clearly, the subject is well researched.
That alone is quite rare in such an underdeveloped field as mental health.
- Reduced muscle tension
- Improved self-image/Increased self-esteem
- Decreased anxiety/agitation
- Increased verbalization
- Enhanced interpersonal relationships
- Improved group cohesiveness
- Increased motivation
- Successful and safe emotional release
As you can see, music therapy does both the mind and the body good.
Music therapy as an antidepressant
When I say the word “antidepressant” I don’t mean the standard pill.
Rather, I mean the literal translation – Something that “negates” depression, so to speak.
After all, depression is a vastly underresearched field of study, and a lot of people have misconceptions about the subject as a whole.
Am I going to say that this is another one of those misconceptions? That people don’t know what they are talking about? Well, no.
In fact, music therapy works very well against depression.
One study attempted to determine the specifics of the music-depression relationship.
In this study, the researchers gathered 79 depression sufferers that were randomized to receive individual music therapy sessions, as well as standard treatment with a therapist.
In the follow-up reviews, 3 and 6 months later, those who went through individual music therapy sessions were shown greater improvement in their condition when compared to those who didn’t.
This isn’t the only study of its kind, either.
Depression was diagnosed among addicts, the elderly population, and other demographics – the results remain the same.
Music therapy is shown to be very helpful for those that are struggling with depression.
You should try it out
In case you aren’t someone who enjoys listening to music, maybe you should still give it a go.
Although there is a whole science behind the subject, and a whole therapeutic approach, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used as a self-help method.
In fact, originally, people used music as a form of healing and got great results from it.
In the age of the internet, there is nothing to prevent you from listening to songs that help you destress and make you happy.
There are many relaxing melodies, comforting songs and enjoyable melodies to be found.
For example, in my case, I tend to listen to jazz whenever I am feeling unstable.
Classical music in particular is known to be a great antidepressant, as studies show us.
When used as a tool for expression, however, music is arguably even more effective.
A lot of musicians use their music as a way to get out, and if you possess the necessary talent, you should try it out as well.
In case you do wish to meet with a therapist, including music-based sessions in your overall treatment will do wonders.
Studies tell us this much.
That being said, using music “as a way out” is a terrible idea.
All of the data provided so far works off the assumption that music is only meant to “augment” existing efforts.
It will not help you unless you wish to help yourself.
Many people close themselves inside their houses and listen to music, trying to comfort themselves, and that’s a terrible mistake.
Experts agree that while music therapy can be very beneficial in treating one’s anxiety and depression, it isn’t to be used as a sole method.
For what it is though, music can be very a very powerful boost to your mental health.
Music therapy can help with anxiety and depression
The human mind is a very complex thing, and to this day we know far too little about it.
That being said, when it comes to music therapy, the evidence is pretty much conclusive.
Music can help with depression and anxiety, and simply listening to comforting music can go far in making you feel better.
That being said, music can only “boost” your mood, and isn’t an alternative to proper therapy sessions.
If you wish to help yourself then there are a variety of methods to consider.
Two programs I would recommend are Destroy Depression and Panic Away for depression and anxiety respectively, so be sure to check those out.
Before you go, however, here’s a question: Do you find comfort in music?
Make sure to write your answers in the comment section below, I read all of them!
If you got any further questions then please send me an email and I’ll get back to you.