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How Music Therapy Can Relieve Depression
Music it is often said, is food for the soul, and you can rarely find anyone who doesn’t love music of some form or another. It is relaxing to listen to music at work, or while performing other tasks. Good music can even sometimes turn mundane activities into enjoyable experiences. In fact, music has such a deep and profound effect on us that medical science is beginning to take it as a form of treatment in the past few decades. One application of music in such a setting is the use of music to relieve depression symptoms.
Before we dive into the topic, we need first to understand what depression is. According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression or major depressive disorder is a fairly common illness that causes negative feelings and loss of interest. It can vary from mild feelings of sadness to negative feelings of guilt, to severe depressive moods resulting in suicidal thoughts.
What is music therapy?
Music therapy is the use of music to treat medical conditions such as anxiety and depression. It is the science of using music to treat individuals through participative musical activities, from listening to performing of instruments, singing, improvising, and even composing music. This can be self-administered or with the help of a therapist in one to one music lessons or in larger group therapy sessions. Each individual may have different preferences, so the mode of therapy sessions is often catered to the needs of the treated individuals.
How does music therapy work?
Music therapy can bring about positive changes to depressive individuals through many different small benefits to reach a combined overall healing effect. Some of these ways are:
Listening or making music reduces depression
Many famous singers and musicians cite writing and composing music as one of the best ways to cope with their negative thoughts. Both, listening to and making music opens up another channel for us to connect with other people around us, and these connections can form the lifelines that make depression easier to cope with.
Music is the best kind of distraction
Music can be a great stress reliever itself, but it is also a good distraction from whatever is bogging us down mentally or emotionally. For depressive individuals who develop tunnel vision into all the negativity in their life, music opens up a doorway to an alternative space that is not cluttered up by stress or pain. Listening to music is thus the best type of distraction from our problems. Additionally, engaging with music by listening, playing or creating also releases endorphins within our body. This chemical can directly counteract physical or emotional pain.
Music inspires creativity
One of the key signs of depression is a lack of motivation or inspiration. Music is one of the best ways to deal with this. Research has shown that listening to pumped up, and upbeat tunes can release your mind from its own captivity, naturally inspiring creativity. Music has many unique qualities that allow us to express ourselves and interact in a non-verbal form, thus pushing us towards ideas and thoughts that we are not commonly used to. This is the precursor to higher creativity, which is, in turn, one of the best ways to fight depressive thoughts.
Music creates a positive mood
When you’re alone in your darkest moments in the night, don’t let the negativity seep into your mind. Turn on your favorite music by your bedside, and it will help fill you with a positive mood. Even if you’re listening to sad, sentimental tunes, it can still have a net positive effect on your mood and emotional well-being. For example, letting your tears flow while listening to a tearjerker, is actually a very cathartic process and can help you flush out suppressed feelings within you. This can leave you feeling more positive than you started out.
Singing with a group of people makes you happier
Group music therapy has also shown that singing with others within a group setting naturally brings about feelings of joy and closeness to others. Often, this simple activity brings about smiles and laughter from participants as they try to coordinate their voices to a unified melody. There is no quicker or easier way to build connections between people than to engage in group singing together.
As you can see, music can aid depression in many different ways. Most importantly, music allows us to cast aside or compartmentalize bad memories. Being able to do so allows us to separate the positive thoughts from the negative, and can pave the way of dealing with depression in the healthiest possible way. So, for anyone suffering from depression, do give music therapy a chance, and experience for yourself how it can change your lives for the better.
Curtis Dean writes on behalf of Sage Music School where they base lessons on the science and research of the psychology of learning. Their effective teaching methods create confident and capable students who enjoy the happiness of making music.
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Please reach out to someone if you or a loved one is suffering with depression. The elite team at The Addictions Coach is always here to help.