Why Music Therapy Is Great For Depression

The social stigma associated with depression discourages us from talking about it. Society expects those suffering from the disorder to “snap out of it” and “deal with it” by themselves. More than 264 million people across the globe suffer from depression, irrespective of their age group. And yet, mental health continues to be one of the most neglected aspects of healthcare.

Depression manifests itself in various forms- anxiety, stress, sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, fatigue, and other physical ailments. It’s important to recognize the signs early and take necessary measures to be able to live a happy and care-free life.

There are various ways to treat depression. You can either seek help from a professional or employ self-help techniques- whatever works for you. But one treatment that’s gained popularity in recent years due to its effectiveness in the healing process is music therapy.

What Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is the use of music to cater to the emotional, physical, social, and cognitive needs of an individual or group. It allows people to communicate with one another in non-verbal ways, making it easier for them to express themselves.

Physiologically, music has a calming effect on the body. Psychologically, it proves as a great distraction for the disturbed mind. It’s beneficial for people from all age groups, whether they’re amateurs, virtuosos, or even tone-deaf.

There are two commonly used methods of music therapy.

  1. Creative Process

The creative process is where a depressed person engages in the activity of creating music. It could be anything from composing a song to drumming or playing the guitar or even improvising on someone else’s song.

  1. Receptive Process

As the name suggests, the receptive process has more to do with the reception of music. It includes listening to songs, causing instant mood elevations and reduced stress and anxiety.

Therapists across the globe have increasingly been flocking to music therapy to treat their depressed patients. Researchers in Finland at the University of Jyvaskyla have found that the results are more remarkable when depressed patients are treated with music therapy, as opposed to standard therapy.

The Power of Music Therapy

Music therapy has proven to be more effective in treating depression than medication. Michael Crawford, a well-known psychiatrist has highlighted three plausible reasons for the effectiveness of the said treatment.

  • It provides pleasure and a sense of meaningfulness
  • It engages the body in addition to engaging the mind
  • It helps communicate with others without having to actually speak up.

Researchers from McGill University have found that music increases the production of a mood-enhancing chemical in the brain- dopamine, making it an effective method of treatment.

Infants are also allured by the power of rhythms and melodies. You may have noticed how they calm down as soon as they hear music. This happens due to ‘entrainment’, a phenomenon where the body’s internal rhythms synchronize with the external rhythms, thus reducing stress.

Music also has a stress-busting effect on adults by lowering the cortisol levels in the body. In addition, the songs and tunes have great recall value, reminding individuals of certain events from their lives. Naturally, the therapy is great for treating patients suffering from dementia, who are known to demonstrate better mood and better episodic memory when exposed to music.

Physiological Benefits Of Music

In addition to psychological benefits, music therapy also has various physiological benefits.

  • Helps relieve pain
  • Alleviates the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in cancer patients
  • Helps restore lost speech
  • Eases anxiety during medical procedures
  • Helps in the process of physical rehabilitation

Practising Music Therapy For Self-Care

Therapists in all parts of the world vouch for music therapy. But that doesn’t mean you have to fix up an appointment with a practitioner right this second to reap the benefits. There are certain strategies you can use to incorporate music into your self-care routine.

  • When you’re feeling hyper, listen to a slow song. It helps calm your nerves
  • Create an SOS playlist. Grab hold of the songs that trigger strong emotions in you or remind you of events from your life and add them to your playlist
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Process your emotions through relevant songs

Small changes go a long way in improving the overall quality of life. Almost 25% of the world’s population suffers from mental health issues. It’s up to you how you choose to maintain your sanity and deal with the multifarious situations that life throws at you.

Written by Sneha


Sneha is a writer and mental health promoter who quit her job to pursue her passion for writing. When she is not reading or writing, she can be found teaching kids, cooking, or cuddled in her bed watching Netflix.

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