It’s hard to imagine a world without music. Our favorite songs lift us up and help us better understand love, loss, and life. Although most people feel strongly connected to music in some way, not everyone knows that music can be used to heal.
From the very first tune ever hummed, music has brought increased physical and mental wellbeing to musicians and listeners alike. Music therapy is the modern world’s application of this ancient wisdom, using evidence-based musical interventions to explore a wide range of mental health benefits.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects more than 264 million people worldwide. People of all ages and cultural backgrounds can suffer from depressive episodes, impacting a wide range of biological, psychological, and social factors. Because of this, there is a strong need for increased awareness and treatment of mental health issues such as depression.
Healing with Music Therapy
The effectiveness of music therapy is impressive. Reduced muscle tension and anxiety are just a couple of the benefits of music therapy that have been documented. When it comes to using music therapy for depression, the supportive evidence is also strong. In fact, combining music therapy with traditional treatment methods helps to reduce depressive symptoms and improve social functioning, according to HealthyPeople.gov.
“Combining music therapy with traditional treatment methods helps to reduce depressive symptoms and improve social functioning.”
Music is deeply connected to our memories and emotional states. The right song at the right time can have a transformative effect on our minds and moods. If you’re still not convinced that music can transform the brain, check out this popular video of how a man in a nursing home reacts to hearing his favorite tunes:
Just as music brought this man to a higher state of functioning, it can also uplift those who are suffering from depression. Listening to music, studying an instrument, and even writing songs can be a great way to overcome depressive symptoms. These activities are welcome distractions, and they can have lasting effects on our sense of wellbeing.
Using Music for Emotional Processing
Ask seasoned songwriters, and you’ll hear plenty of anecdotes about how music has helped them process emotions throughout their lives. Just listening to a heartfelt piece of music makes this clear. Even when it’s hard to communicate with others, art can be used to express what we need to express and process what we need to process. The beauty of music therapy is that it extends the power of the creative process to everyone.
“The beauty of music therapy is that it extends the power of the creative process to everyone.”
With the help of a music therapist, those suffering from depression can improvise with drums, shakers, and other percussive instruments. As the drum intensity rises and falls, players can relate the highs and lows to their emotional states. When done in a group setting, this is a great way to relate with others and feel a greater sense of connection.
Wondering how to become a music therapist? Check out this guide.
How Does Music Therapy Work?
Every music therapy session is different since it’s catered to the needs of the individual. Music therapists are trained to determine the best application of therapy techniques, based on someone’s cognitive, emotional, and communicative abilities. This can include singing, analyzing song lyrics, and learning to play an instrument.
If you’re wondering how music therapy works in the brain, scientists are just beginning to understand it. Although the benefits of music therapy have been observed externally for decades, a more recent study has used EEG scans to show a significant change in brain signals during a type of music therapy. When music therapists and clients use music to “connect,” their brain activity can sync up, resulting in a shift toward positive emotions.
Using Music Therapy for Depression
Everybody knows the power of music, but not everyone has the skills to use music therapeutically. A board-certified music therapist combines strong musical knowledge with therapeutic best practices to offer music therapy sessions tailored to the individual.
Many TakeLessons music teachers hold Music Therapist – Board Certified (MT-BC) credentials. Simply check out a teacher’s profile page to find out if they have a background in music therapy.
Music therapy is just one of the tools that can be used to ease the symptoms of depression. Please seek out the advice of a mental health professional if you or a loved one suffers from depression.
Are you interested in pursuing vocal coaching or music lessons in your instrument of choice? Visit our marketplace to connect with trusted online music teachers.