The health benefits of music and its power
Billy Joel, an American musician, famously stated, “I think music in itself is healing.” It’s a powerful manifestation of humanity. It’s something that affects all of us. People from all cultures have a deep affection for music. I think most of us would agree entirely with this statement, and it is precisely this shared connection to music that has inspired academics worldwide to explore its therapeutic possibilities.
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Everybody can recall at least one song that makes them feel something when they hear it. It may be a song that played during your wedding’s first dance, or it could be a song that brings back memories of a painful breakup or the death of a loved one.
According to Barbara Else, senior adviser for policy and research at the American Music Therapy Association, “we have a deep connection to music because it is ‘hardwired’ in our brains and bodies,” Medical News Today said. “Rhythm, melody, and other musical elements are echoed in our physiology, functioning, and being.”
Considering how deeply we interact with music, it should come as no surprise that several studies have indicated its positive effects on mental health. According to a 2011 study by Canadian researchers at McGill University, music has the potential to heal depression because it boosts the brain’s production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that improves mood.
However, more and more research is showing that music has health advantages that may extend beyond mental health. As a result, some medical professionals are advocating for the wider use of music therapy in healthcare settings.
In this Spotlight, we examine some of the possible health advantages of music and consider if music may supplement or even replace existing therapy approaches for certain ailments.
“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain,” was a song that Bob Marley once sung. Some research suggest that this assertion may be accurate.
MNT published a story earlier this year on a study conducted by Brunel University in the UK that revealed people recovering from surgery may experience less pain and anxiety while listening to music.
There are several studies supporting the anti-pain effects of music. Danish researchers discovered in March 2014 that fibromyalgia sufferers, who experience weariness and discomfort in their muscles and joints, may benefit from listening to music.
Researchers found that 22 fibromyalgia patients “reduced pain and increased functional mobility significantly” when they listened to peaceful, calming, self-selected music.
Why, therefore, does music seem to make pain go away? The precise mechanics underlying this phenomenon are still unknown, but a number of experts speculate that one possible explanation is that music stimulates the brain’s natural painkillers, or opioids, to release.
In a 2013 review, Dr. Daniel Levitin of McGill University in Canada and colleagues discuss this theory. They cite research showing that when given the opioid-blocking medication Naltrexone, people felt less pleasure from listening to their favorite song, suggesting that music triggers the release of opioids to reduce pain.
Numerous studies have shown that listening to your favorite music might help you feel better when you’re feeling anxious.