Music Therapy: Can Music Help You Heal?

Music has positively impacted everyone’s emotional or mental health at one time or another. Imagine for a moment what it feels like to hear your favorite song on the radio. Now, reminisce about a favorite childhood song or a melody you associate with a particularly happy time.

Music has the ability to quickly shift your emotions and mood – in one direction or the other. From depression to schizophrenia, scientific evidence has shown that music can positively impact the symptoms of several psychiatric diagnoses.

How Music Therapy Impacts the Brain and Body

Research has shown it impacts the body in scientifically measurable ways, such as:

  • Reducing the stress hormone cortisol
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Shifting the brain’s focus away from obsessive negative thinking, as seen on EKG brain scans
  • Increasing the release of relaxation and happiness hormones

This ability to change brain focus can also ground individuals who experience psychoses (breaks with reality). While psychosis may be most commonly associated with schizophrenia or PTSD, people with severe social anxiety or depression can also experience milder yet still impactful versions. Grounding is a technique that brings your mind into the present moment and current location, so they can look more objectively at how they feel and what they are experiencing.

Music therapy also increases dopamine and endorphin release. This is very important for those with mental health and addiction challenges because individuals with these challenges often produce fewer of these feel-good hormones or are less responsive to them.

Music has been used widely as a healing tool since the early 20th Century, but according to Medical News Today, the first known mention of music as therapy dates back to the 1700s.

How Music Impacts the Mind and Emotions

Music’s expressive, emotional nature can help you become more self-aware and bring about emotions you might be suppressing. Unburied feelings can guide you toward a better understanding of why you feel and act a certain way.

For example, if you have buried the emotion “grief” after losing a loved one or ending a relationship years ago, it could affect how you’re interacting with the world today. Music brings this forward, so that you can understand your feelings about the loss. This allows you to walk through that emotion and understand it.

Music is extremely therapeutic and respected within the field of mental health. In fact, the American Music Therapy Association states, “Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship.”

When a professional music therapist performs music therapy, patients have reported decreasing anger, anxiety, stress, and even depression. These professionals can select music that supports your unique mental health needs and furthers the healing process.

What We’ve Seen At Jonas Hill

We spoke with some of our recreational therapists here at Jonas Hill to hear from them firsthand how music therapy helps the patients they work with. Since adding musical instruments to the inpatient unit, our recreational therapists have observed several positive changes in their patients like these.

One of our therapists described seeing previously withdrawn patients singing and dancing. They went from a sad, socially-isolated, socially-anxious, and depressed state to one of enhanced social interaction and joy for life.

Another shared how their patients’ discoveries that they could express their emotions through songs and instruments allowed them to feel more comfortable and supported in their mental wellness and recovery journey.

Yet another observed the difference having instruments on the inpatient unit could have. They saw:

  • Outlets for frustration and stress
  • Re-engaging of patients who had previously “tuned out” in or learning new healthy/sober leisure activities
  • Improved motivation for treatment and a desire to do the recovery work to promote their own mental health
  • Decreased anxiety and isolation

Start Your Path to Recovery Today

If you’re currently dealing with mental health challenges and addiction, Jonas Hill is here to help. Music therapy is just one scientifically-supported method we use to help our patients on their recovery journey. You are heard here. Learn more about what to expect in mental health and addiction treatment at Jonas Hill.

Jonas Hill Hospital & Clinic, a division of Caldwell Memorial Hospital provides our community with safe, dignified and integrated care for adult patients experiencing an acute mental health need. We provide hope, treatment, and healing through a holistic program of evidence-based psychiatric treatment, team-based medical care, and education provided by engaging and dedicated professionals in a safe and healing environment. Contact us today for more information. A safe space to heal.

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