Listening to music can be entertaining, and as research suggests, it might even make you healthier.
It is often referred to as a source of pleasure and contentment, but there are other psychological benefits to it as well. The notion that music influences your feelings, thoughts and behaviors do not come as much of a surprise.
If you’ve ever felt pumped up by listening to your favorite fast-paced rock anthem or been moved to tears by a tender live performance, then it is easy to understand the power of music and how it impacts your moods and can even inspire action.
The psychological effects of music are wide-ranging and powerful, to say the least. Music therapy is an intervention used to promote emotional health and help patients cope with depression, anxiety, and stress.
In the following article, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of music when it comes to coping with depression.
Can music affect your mental health?
If you’re wondering whether music can impact your mental health, then the answer is yes, it can be indeed.
Music is a powerful thing. Aside from its entertainment value, listening to music is known to have significant positive effects on your brain. Music can also change the way we feel, think and act.
So how exactly does this all fit into managing your mental health?
Well, music has the ability to make you dance like no one is watching, sing until your throat is sore, and uncontrollably tap your feet.
The amount and type of music out there is practically limitless, and different musical effects everybody uniquely.
Everything from rock and folk to electronic and pop and in between offers an endless variety of music to listen to and dance to.
According to the Marcs Institute for Brain, Behavior, and Development, music increases memory and attention and maximizes your learning capabilities. Your brain triggers particular memories, thoughts and emotions which ultimately lead to more positive effects towards mental health.
Let’s take a look at five potential benefits music is said to have on your mental health.
It elevates mood and motivation
Optimistic and positive feelings are strongly aligned with good mental well-being.
So when you’re having a bad day there’s nothing better than playing an uplifting song as loud as you can. The bright musical lyrics and tones tend to alleviate your mood and empower you for the day ahead.
If you have a slow start to the morning, and all you need to do is get through a long week and have no motivation to go for a run, simply listen to some up-tempo and fast-paced music to get your body and brain working.
It will help you amp-up and motivate you to enjoy the day ahead. Researchers claim that classical and ambient music has the best benefits and insist that metal and rock music have the opposite effect.
One of the many benefits of music is that it can be used to help you with various activities.
Trying to concentrate or stay focused on an activity irrespective of whether it is studying, cleaning or working can tend to be difficult, especially if you need to do it for prolonged periods.
Some types of music are known to boost your concentration and focus however it’s important to know what type of music to listen to.
It is suggested that listening to instrumental, ambient or classical is best for honing in on your focus and creativity.
Music has the ability to be a stress reliever, and this benefit is often downplayed.
Whether you are playing music in the background or giving it your full attention, certain genres of music have the innate ability to lower stress levels.
Soft, ambient music creates a soothing and calming stimulation for the mind. So it’s best to avoid metal, and rock music to moderate stress.
If you are looking for a way to get rid of stress, search for playlists that contain a lot of quiet and ambient music.
Everyone enjoys relaxing and switching off their mind at the end of a long hard day.
Playing music is a simple way to promote relaxation and helps to release tension in your muscles therefore cutting away stress and anxiety.
When your muscles are loose, so is your mind. So listening to music as you drift off to sleep is one of the most effective ways of relaxing, reducing stress, falling off to sleep and staying asleep for much longer.
Anxiety and depression
Music affects your emotions, and understanding how it does this will go a long way in helping you to ease anxious and depressive thoughts.
Music therapy has become a popular and alternative way of treating anxiety and depression.
Ultimately, it’s an exercise in listening and composing therapeutic music to promote physical and mental rehabilitation.
Is music good for depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that adversely affects how you think, feel, and handle day-to-day activities.
It can be activities such as sleeping, eating and even working. However to be diagnosed with depression the symptoms need to be prevalent for at least two weeks or more. Some of the symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad and anxious mood
- Lack of energy and increased fatigue
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Problems with sleeping such as waking up very early in the morning or oversleeping
- Difficulty in concentrating and remembering things
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and worthlessness
- Feelings of restlessness
- Appetite and weight changes
- Feelings of loneliness and pessimism
- Suicidal thoughts
It is believed by experts that between 10 to 15% of the general population experience clinical depression at least once in their lifetime.
These estimations are done by the World Health Organization and approximately 5% of men and 9% of women will experience depressive mental disorders in any given year.
There are several causes that may lead to depression, and some of them are:
- Genetics and biology
- Circadian rhythm disturbance
- Brain chemistry imbalance
- Physical health problems
- Poor nutrition
- Stressful life events
- Grief and loss
Those who tend to suffer from depression may come across other family and health-related problems. There are lots of risks with depression, and if not managed properly, it will ultimately lead you to consult with your healthcare practitioners as it can prove to be lethal to your overall health.
Here are some of the risks of depression:
- Low self-esteem
- Developing a serious or chronic illness
- Lack of social support
- Increased consumption of alcohol and drugs
- Experiencing mental disorders such as bipolar disorder or anxiety
- Seclusion of oneself away from family and friends
Depression is a mental disorder, and diagnosing it is of the utmost importance. People fail to talk about how they’re feeling with family and friends however it is important to talk to someone about how you’re feeling.
Alternatively, consult a mental health professional. If depression is picked up at an early age, it most definitely can be cured. While there are various treatments for depression, more and more people are acknowledging the importance of music in healing depression.
Music therapy is known to work wonders in people who have depression. Music therapists all around the world are usually skilled musicians who have in-depth knowledge of music and how it helps to stimulate emotional responses and help to relax people and heal them from mental disorders, especially depression.
It’s one of the most effective ways in healing depression nowadays, and you can easily listen to your favorite songs and convert YouTube MP3s to help fight depression and other mental disorders.
How does music help with depression?
It seems as though people live for music.
On the molecular level, listening to music improves mental well-being and physical health. However, the benefits go far beyond the present moment in that it influences the outcome of our hormones as well as cognitive functioning. It is also believed that people who play instruments are smarter.
Here are 10 benefits of music for depression:
1. Music increases happiness
This might seem like an obvious one, but the natural chemical reasoning is pretty incredible when you think about it.
If you have ever needed an emotional boost, it only takes 15 minutes of listening to your favorite tunes to get a natural high.
This is because your brain releases dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that ultimately leads to increased feelings of excitement, joy and happiness when you listen to music that you enjoy.
2. Music decreases stress while increasing overall health
Music has a direct effect on our hormones. When you listen to music that you like, it decreases levels of the hormone cortisol in your body, combating the effects of chronic stress.
Stress is believed to cause 60% of all diseases and illnesses. So lower stress levels mean higher chances of overall well-being. One study even showed that a group of people playing various percussion instruments and singing had boosted immune systems compared to the people who were passively listening.
However, both groups were positively affected by the music. But the group playing the instruments and singing had better results. For the ultimate benefit, turn on some music and sing along.
3. Music reduces depression
Music has a direct effect on our hormones, as mentioned earlier. It can also be considered a natural antidepressant.
This is because certain tunes cause the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain and ultimately lead to heightened feelings of happiness and well-being. It also releases norepinephrine which is a hormone that invokes feelings of euphoria.
More than 350 million people suffer from depression around the world and 90% of them experience insomnia.
4. Music improves sleep
More than 30% of Americans suffer from insomnia. A study shows that listening to classical music approximately an hour before going to bed improves your sleep significantly.
This is compared to listening to an audiobook or doing nothing before bed. Since music influences our hormones, it only makes sense to throw on some Beethoven before bed when in need of a good night’s rest.
5. Music helps you eat less
The combination of soft lighting and music leads people to consume less food. And this is according to research.
6. Music strengthens learning and memory
Listening to music helps you learn and recall information more effectively. It depends on the degree to which you like the music or whether or not you play an instrument.
Studies show that musicians actually do better with neutral music but tested better with music they liked. Non-musicians learned better with positive music but tested better with neutral music.
7. Music elevates your mood while driving
So we are all guilty of blasting Phish on the highway. However, studies found that listening to music positively influences your mood while driving.
This leads to safer behavior and less likelihood of road range. So it’s safe to say that you can turn on the jams while driving.
8. Music increases verbal intelligence
A study showed that 90% of children between 4 and 6 years of age significantly increased their intelligence, but taking music lessons.
They learned about melody, pitch, rhythm as well as voice in these lessons. It is believed that the music lessons had a transfer effect and increased the child’s ability to understand words and even explain the meaning.
A similar experience was revealed in musically trained adult women and children that outperformed the group with no music training on verbal memory tests.
9. Music raises IQ
Taking music lessons determines high academic performance and IQ scores in young children. The study surveyed a group of six-year-old children while taking keyboard or vocal lessons in small groups over 36 weeks.
It showed that they had significantly large increases in IQ and standardized educational test results over that time show that children who took other extracurricular activities unrelated to music did not perform as well.
10. Keeps your brain healthy in old age.
Music is also known to keep your brain healthy in old age, and ultimately, sound works as a therapy for various different types of diseases and ailments.
What type of music is best for depression?
Classical, soft, ambient and even instrumental music is known to be an effective antidepressant in people suffering from depression.
It should also be noted that listening to heavy metal and rock music is not advised if you suffer from depression as it can have the opposite effect.
People who suffer from depression may possibly even benefit from listening to white, pink, and brown noise sounds which ultimately, help to soothe and calm you down especially after a long, hard day at work.
Music therapy has proven to be extremely effective in helping people heal from depression. While it is considered an alternative form of treatment, it definitely has shown results.
Music is extremely powerful in that it can make you feel, think, and act differently. The bonus is that it can inspire you to do things that you never thought possible.
So listening to soothing, calming jams from time to time is probably one of the best ways to give yourself a natural pick-me-up and motivate you to get through the day ahead.