The effects of medical music therapy on depression and anxiety





The effects of medical music therapy on depression and anxiety

Music has a significant influence in differentiating between abandonment and responsiveness, loneliness and communication, unceasing pain and relief and between discouragement and self-respect. Several researches have proved music to positively affect the various sectors of health by decreasing the levels of depression and anxiety in human beings. Music therapy is known to possess particular qualities that enable individuals to articulate themselves and socialize non-verbally even in circumstances in which they are unable to describe their inner thoughts and feelings.

Music was recognized as a traditional device for curing by Greek logicians including Aristotle and Plato. The advanced discipline in musical therapy started during the early twentieth century period, whereby various communal music artists would visit several medical institutions in different parts of the country to perform for the victims affected by the World war. As a result, the positive feedbacks displayed by the patients made hospitals adopt this strategy of employing musicians to entertain their patients.

Several studies have implied that music can be applied in affecting the substantial, poignant, cognitive and interactive welfare by enhancing the quality of a person’s health and fasten the recovery or healing process in a patient. Such positive results are obtained through listening or participating in an action that produces music. Therapeutic music is beneficial to all kinds of individuals ranging from young infants to the elderly. In addition, different categories of music vary based on the form of neurological stimulus they cause. For example, Jazz music can be used as a form of reducing one’s levels of anxiety through relaxation.

However, other forms of music including rock may generate a high level of noise that is a danger to the auditory system to the extent of losing the sense of hearing. The brain is affected because it loses its balance between the left and right sections. For instance, it is difficult for a person to pay full attention on a given task while loud music is playing on his headphones. Sound is sent as vibrations from the outer auditory section to the inner section through thousands of fragile hair cells. Moreover, if the auditory system is exposed to damaging sounds, organs including cells and nerves are destroyed as well in the process.

However, exposures such as incessant noise only lead to a temporary loss in hearing, whereby the hair cells behave differently through pulsing briskly and other times aggressively. Therefore, it is possible to enjoy such music without being a threat to the auditory system through listening in the appropriate volume.

Music Therapy has also been discovered to fasten the recovery process in stroke illnesses and attacks. Different genres of music from the jazz and classical category based on the current research done have proved to minimize the level or the severity of the stroke attacks. In a survey that was carried out in Finland, after patients suffering from stroke illnesses participated in listening to music for a certain period daily, their progress in the functioning of verbal memory and concentration improved at an impressive rate in comparison to patients receiving a different form of treatment.

Music therapy has also been proved a source of cure in Coronary heart illness. For example, a study was conducted in patients that were going through cardiac treatment (Barnason, Zimmerman and Janet 125). The treatment included music therapy, which involved activities, assigned to different groups of patients that would enable them to learn skills for handling the Music-Assisted Relaxation and Imagery (MARI) procedures. It involved patients practicing on how to listening to music while resting on a habitual period. Results of patients’ progress before and after this form of treatment were evaluated, and the outcome presented major improvements through patients’ reduced levels of blood pressure and stress (Barnason, Zimmerman and Janet 125).

However, not all the findings were conclusive because of the uncertainty in the eminence of the proof presented. Although, the medical advantages of music therapy presented should be enough to verify the value in the evidence. It has also been discovered that music has a positive effect in the brain. Musical sounds can alter the functioning of a brain, cure a variety of neurological illnesses such as dejection, and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Performing artists have also acknowledged the effect of rhythmic sounds. For example, cultural practices involving the use of musical instruments such as drums have been applied in spiritual functions to encourage trance conditions. Other scientists have also taken interest to study the impact of music in the area of rumination, slumber and hypnosis.

A result from this study has proved that music is capable of changing the psychological states in conventional ways that can aid in curing an injured brain. This finding shows that music with influential elements including beats can fuel the brain signals to reverberate in accordance to the beat rhythm. For example, an individual expresses quick attentiveness when he listens to music with rushed beats. However, slow music changes his mental condition to a contemplative status.

The contemplative state is particularly significant when an individual sends out physical reactions to threatening situations. Meditation reinstates the human body to a composed state by assisting the body to renovate itself and secure it from new threats that display the physical causes of anxiety. Alterations in the operations of brain signal levels enable the brain to interchange the speed levels as required and hence improve a person’s mental condition.

Music is also significant in enhancing learning skills in infants and children ranging below the age of five years. Children are able to develop various learning skills in interactive communication, stimulus, concentration and behavioral issues (Tony, Pedersen and Bonde 183). Music was first observed to have a positive impact on infants in pregnant women. This observation was made in the female’s womb, which is covered with amniotic fluid. In addition, the fetus is believed to sense different sounds including the heart beat of the mother, external environmental sounds that are inflicted by human beings and other sources of sound including animals, natural and manmade features (Tony, Pedersen and Bonde 183).

For example, research was carried out by a female student from a University in the United Kingdom. She discovered the ability of the fetus in listening to sound after finding out that children were able to identify and familiarize with the music they were exposed to when they were in the womb. In addition, the auditory structure located in the fetus has the full ability to function in a period of five months after its formation. Therapeutic rooms for children should include different musical instruments that are colorfully decorated in order for the children to feel comfortable in that environment. However, not all children are able to master the skill of using those musical devices and hence each child should be given an instrument he or she can easily relate to (Tony, Pedersen and Bonde 184).

Music has also been discovered to improve an individual’s pace in breathing and heart beat. The changes that occur in brain signals cause modifications in the functioning of different body parts including those that are controlled by the cardiac and breathing systems. As a result, the inhaling and heart pacing alterations can be initiated through the influence of music. In addition, it also stimulates a slower rate of breathing and heart beat and hence the launch of the relaxation feedback. This is why music therapy is being considered as a curing and preventive agent against persistent stress and hence encouraging mental health. However, music is known to have a negative effect in several patients.

For example, different forms of music have been known to cause epileptic attacks in some patients and hence leading to psychological complications (Devinsky, Orrin, Steven and Pacia 298). However, the type of music used on the patient should be highly considered and hence it is possible for the patient to be cured on condition that the therapist does not apply music that triggers the epileptic attacks in the patient. Music has also proven to be effective in enhancing better health within the circulatory system based on the speed at which it is played rather than the type. This finding was based on an experiment carried out by researchers from Britain and Italy.

The selected individuals listened to different types of music using their headphones from the Jazz and hip hop category. As they were listening to the various kinds of music, the researchers noticed that there was a variation in each of the volunteer’s heartbeats depending on the tempo of the sound (Knight and Rickard 255). For example, volunteers who listened to music with a high tempo had an increased heartbeat while those listening to slow music had a slower pace in their heartbeat. In addition, when the music was stopped, the rates of breathing and heartbeat became normal.

This experiment also proved that the style of music was not the only factor to be considered because the speed rate appeared to play a role in relaxation of the body system (Knight and Rickard 256). However, this method of applying therapeutic music might be considered as dangerous especially in elderly patients with severe heart conditions. A type of music might have a tempo that interferes with the normal functioning of the heart. For example, a patient with a certain condition might suffer complications after an unexpected trigger of the heartbeat pace after listening to a particular kind of music. Therefore, it is crucial for medical professionals to do a considerate amount of medical check-ups on the patient before proceeding with the therapeutic treatment.

Music is regarded as useful in enabling an optimistic mental state and hence pushing away negative factors including anxiety and stress. The feedback from stress is averted from inflicting destruction in the body system and hence increases the levels of creativity and positivism. Positivism offers benefits such as improved health, reduced stress levels and increases the possibility of one succeeding in performing a given task.

Music is considered as a useful therapeutic treatment in pain reduction. In general, music offers benefits in the management of pain through preventing illnesses of persistent and postoperative throbbing (Cepada, Carr, Lau and Alvarez 2). As an individual listens to music, the levels of persistent pain that is caused by illnesses such as osteoarthritis, disc complications and infections such as rheumatoid arthritis are minimized. In addition, therapeutic music is also known to cure or reduce the level of migraines Music is also being used as therapy in medical institutions to minimize the intensity and level of migraine attacks and headaches that cause pain.

In addition, it is replacing medicinal drugs that are used to decrease the level of postoperative pain during childbirth (Browning 274). For example, the use of drugs such as anesthetics in surgery procedures can be minimized. Music plays its pain relieving functions through distracting the patient from the painful medical procedures and strengthening the ability of the patient to have control over the pain. In addition, music encourages the release of hormones known as endorphin that assist in neutralizing pain.

Music has also been discovered to increase immunity of the body system. Several researches indicate that music can have a positive influence on peoples’ experiences that are related with different emotions. This causes a release of hormones that increase the level of immunity, which is defined as the ability of the body to fight diseases. In addition, as a person listens to music, the level of hormones that cause stress known as cortisols is minimized. An increase in the level of cortisol hormones could lead to a minimized immune ability of the body.

Another positive effect of therapeutic music is that it has been discovered to increase the intellectual skills of an individual. Results that prove this statement discovered that, during the process of an individual listening to music or participating in a musical activity such as playing an instrument, can enhance an individual’s various learning skills. These include the ability to write, read, communicate, calculate and reason. For example, children with various psychological disorders such as hyperactivity can improve their mathematical skills through musical lessons. However, in other cases, it might not be considered as a helpful technique because the pleasure that the child obtains from the sound of music might hinder his concentration.

Music Therapy is also known to have an impact in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. A number of researches done have proved that music minimizes the level of nervousness and depression in people afflicted by the Alzheimer’s condition. Involving music as part of treating Alzheimer’s disease has steered interest in the area of medicine and science (Wigram, Tony and Backer 245). Although there is a lack of authoritative studies that would support these statements, various studies have proved that music therapy contributes to minimizing frantic behaviors and increasing the level of brain functionality (Wigram, Tony and Backer 245).

As much as music is not well acknowledged and appreciated in the society, it appears to have a major significance in the medical and psychological field. Its importance has been identified in the medical field, whereby it helps curing severe illnesses including stroke disorders, coronary heart illnesses, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s and chronic pains among many others.

Psychologically, it has been known to minimize the levels of anxiety, depression and stress and increase the intellectual ability of individuals. However, the idea of applying music therapy in the area of medicine has its own critics. For example, a certain amount of exposure to music is considered as a threat to a person’s auditory system. Despite these disadvantages, music has offered more benefits in the health aspect and hence considered as an important source of treatment.

Works Cited

Barnason, Susan, Zimmerman, Lani, and Nieveen, Janet. “The Effects of Music Interventions on Anxiety in the Patient After Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting.” Heart & Lung 24 (1995): 124-132. Print.

Browning, CA. “Using Music During Childbirth.” Birth (berkeley, Calif.). 27.4 (2000): 272-6. Print.

Cepeda, MS, DB Carr, J Lau, and H Alvarez. “Music for Pain Relief.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (online). (2006). Print.

Devinsky, Orrin, Steven C. Schachter, and Steven Pacia. Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Epilepsy. New York: Demos, 2005. Print.

Hilliard, Russell. “Music Therapy in Hospice and Palliative Care: a Review of the Empirical Data.” Advance Access Publication 2.2 (2005): 178-8. Print.

Knight, WE, and PhD N. S. Rickard. “Relaxing Music Prevents Stress-Induced Increases in Subjective Anxiety, Systolic Blood Pressure, and Heart Rate in Healthy Males and Females.” Journal of Music Therapy. 38.4 (2001): 254-72. Print.

Wigram, Tony, and Backer J. De. Clinical Applications of Music Therapy in Psychiatry. London: Jessica Kingsley, 1999. Web.

Wigram, Tony, Inge N. Pedersen, and Lars O. Bonde. A Comprehensive Guide to Music Therapy: Theory, Clinical Practice, Research, and Training. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2002. Print.

Garwood foundation, (Photo of Music Therapy Session) retrieved on 30th November 2011 from

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