A relatively new trend in combating depression, anxiety, ADD, and even substance abuse is music therapy. We know that music is a powerful thing and can bring a smile to your face or a tear to your eye. So how effective is music in healing substance abuse and mental disorders? Can music provide therapeutic advantages previously undiscovered? The following sheds light on some of the new found effects of music, which can help explain the effectiveness behind music therapy.
Breathing and Heart Rate
Listening to calming and familiar music can have serious effects on our autonomic nervous system. This system is in control of functions such as breathing, heart-rate, and stress levels. Music can slow our breathing leading to activation of the relaxation response. This explains partially why music therapy can counteract the negative effects of chronic stress, improving relaxation and health.
New research has shown that music has a powerful effect on the simulation and sync of our brainwaves. The ‘beat’ or rhythm in music can actually cause our brainwaves to change. According to this theory, a fast or upbeat tempo will inspire focus and energy while peaceful tempos will promote a calming state.
Change Our State of Mind
Another benefit of music therapy is the ability to bring about a more positive state of mind, which can prevent depression and anxiety. Have you ever been frustrated or sad and then your favorite song comes on the radio? Songs that are positive or special to us can cause a drastic shift in mood. This benefit also can inspire creativity and promote more optimistic thoughts.
The Rise of Music Therapy
After reviewing all the wonderful benefits that music therapy can provide, it’s no mystery why music therapy is growing in popularity. Many hospitals and mental health services are beginning to incorporate music therapy into their programs. Music therapy can be practiced alone but is most beneficial under the direction of a therapist who can help with any difficult emotions that can arise. Here at NewBridge we do have music therapy available to our patients. Remember that while positive songs can promote optimism, violent songs or songs containing threatening lyrics can have a negative effect on our psyche and outlook.