Music has been helping humans get over difficult situations and feelings and to form better connections with each other for ages. It has a strong hold over our emotions by increasing the neurochemicals such as endorphins in the brain.
Music therapy, also known as active or passive music therapy, is known to improve the motor control as well as the emotional functions of the patients suffering from a number of disabilities or diseases.
From schizophrenia to Parkinson’s disease, music has seemed to naturally reduce the symptoms such as depression or anxiety. It can ignite creativity and improve the general communications between the patients as well as their caregivers.
Experts in music therapy even claim that these sessions can cause the achievement of global improvements in the wellbeing of a patient without making them rely on drugs.
It is not wrong to expect more research regarding the benefits of music therapy. This therapy can be included as a part of treatment offered in schools, hospitals, therapist offices, and rehabilitation centers.
What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy involves the improvisation of music by a therapist as well as a patient. Sometimes, it is performed in a one-on-one setting but in other cases, groups may also be involved.
Music therapy can be divided into two main branches; active music therapy and passive music therapy. In active music therapy, the interaction between a patient and their doctor is much more as compared to the passive one in which the patient stays at rest but is still listening to their therapist.
In passive therapy, the therapist uses calming music and asks the patient to visualize soothing images and think about their inner feelings, dialogues, and sensations.
In active music therapy sessions, the therapist and the patients work together using the instruments as well as the vocals. Sometimes, even the bodies are used for stretching or dancing.
The use of instruments in music therapy is structured to involve a lot of sensory organs which includes sight, touch, and sound. In both types of music therapy, the melodic and rhythmic components of music are used as a stimulus to uncover and work through emotions like grief, sadness, loneliness, grief, joy, frustration, gratitude, etc.
How Music Affects your Body and Brain
How can music help to relieve stress, depression, and any negative state of mind?
Research suggests that some of the basic ways in which music therapy can make you feel better or lower the requirement for prescription drugs include increasing:
- A sense of belonging
- Motor integration
- Speech stimulation
- An improved communication
- better relationships with others
What are the effects of music therapy on your health? Following are the top six effects of this therapy on your body.
- Reduction of Anxiety and Stress
An article posted in the Southern Medical Journal has stated that even though there are alterations in individual preferences, music therapy seems to exert physiologic effects via the autonomic nervous system.
Music has the ability to stimulate emotional and motor responses. This is true especially when combining the movement and stimulation of sensory pathways.
As an instrument is involved, both tactile and auditory stimulation can cause a state of mental relaxation. Music is used as a type of natural therapy for a number of diseases even in those who are cognitively or physically impaired.
This includes children and old age people suffering from chronic illnesses, even those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Studies have even found that the music therapy can exert even more benefits on a patient when it is used in combination with other interdisciplinary practices like physical exercise, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological counseling.
- Improving Healing
Another benefit of music therapy is that it can be used in a hospital setting to fasten the process of healing. It can also reduce anxiety suffered by patients prior to any surgical or cardiac procedures.
In a similar manner, music therapy can relax the patients after surgery or during the follow-ups for invasive diagnostic procedures.
It is indicated that music can positively affect the mood by releasing stress hormones. These hormones are beneficial for immune, neurological, cardiac, and respiratory functions involved in the normal healing procedures.
- Management of Parkinsonism and Alzheimer’s Disease
The clinical studies and anecdotal evidence suggests that the music therapy improves the cognition and the quality of life in the patients suffering from different types of cognitive impairments.
This is even true for the patients of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinsonism.
Mood disorder and certain depressive syndromes represent a comorbid condition present in the neurological disorders. The prevalence of such diseases is around 20 to 50 percent, especially in people suffering from multiple sclerosis, stroke, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.
It has been indicated that the act of making music acts as a type of uplifting therapy for the patients and helps them handle the worsening of their symptoms.
At the same time, it also offers stimulation to their senses and provides social supports in group sessions.
- Reduction of Depression in the Elderly
Music therapy is strongly suggested as a treatment method for old age people because it has strong impacts on improving the psychological, social, cognitive, and intellectual performances in such patients.
Both active and passive forms of music therapy can improve the mood and provide a sense of relaxation and comfort. In some cases, it can even modify the behavior of the caregiver.
Sessions have proven that music therapy causes relaxation in patients who are being prepped for anxiety-provoking procedures. It is also helpful for those admitted to the intensive care units.
For the caregivers who are worried about their respective patients, music is a cost-effective yet enjoyable strategy for improving empathy, relationship-centered care, and compassion.
- Treatment of Psychological Disorders such as Schizophrenia
A study conducted in South Korea in the year 2017 found that using music therapy for 12 weeks in patients suffering from different mental illnesses such as schizophrenia can be served as an effective intervention for reducing psychiatric symptoms.
The music program used in this study was modeled after a popular and a long-running kind of a non-verbal comedy show produced in South Korea.
This procedure incorporated the traditional Samul nori rhythms. This Nanta music was produced using improvised instruments including cutting boards, kitchen knives, water canisters, and more.
- Improvement of Communication and Self-expression
One of the most important uses of music therapy is treating the people who are mentally or physically handicapped and are living in rehabilitation centers. It can also be used to target those who find it difficult to express themselves or open up to others.
For people suffering from handicaps, receptive music therapy is often implied. This helps these individuals have “flow experiences” while listening to the stimulating music involved in the therapy.
It also helps the patient to learn how they can respond better through verbal and non-verbal feedback based on the alterations in music stimuli.
The children who suffer from developmental delays such as those with speech development or autism are also advised to go through music therapy. Such children are at a risk of acquiring social-emotional, cognitive, or school-related problems. To avoid these risks, music therapy can be your best option.