Music for Mental Health

 Whether Justin Timberlake and JayZ move you, Adele, Of Monsters & Men, Rihanna, Fun, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, or Psy, music is powerful stuff, whatever genre: rap, soul, jazz, classical, opera, R&B, country, indie, bluegrass, oldies, fusion, folk, funk, klezmer, reggae, world music, alternative, gospel, native, or drumming. There was no doubt she experienced a thrill when Bruce Springsteen, ‘The Boss’ pointed at her, or that he was super-enthused at a major concert -nearly front row seats. Hearing Sir Paul [Paul McCartney] of The Beatles, the entire arena was moved as one, swaying in the dark, singing along, or when everyone was tapping, and clapping to Chicago Blues.

There are now hundreds of research studies on the effect of music on neurochemistry with evidence that the immune system and stress response are affected. Cortisol, oxytocin, dopamine may be involved; our very biochemical responses. The mechanism of sound, hearing, perception and behavior are all linked in complex and fascinating ways. It’s not that much of a leap to consider how sound is also linked to memory. Survivors of trauma- say, a tornado, never forget that sound. The infant response to a mother’s lullaby is remarkable.

In a Huffington Post Canada Article by Rebecca Zamon 12/4/12, music therapist Jennifer Buchanan “works with patients from all walks of life, using music to allow them achieve their specific goals, whether its children with autism who are getting help with speech, office workers who’d like to incorporate music into their daily lives to help with the stress of work, and or even those who are dying and want to put together a ‘musical journey’ of their lives by which to be remembered. Music quickly taps into our rewards centres in our brain,’ says Buchanan. ‘What happens is for most of us in seconds, we will release hormones into our system, like dopamine, which will help us feel good, oxytocin, which will help us trust people and serotonin, which can help us sleep. It all depends on the tune.’”

A Medical News Today article written by Sarah Glynn quoted Professor Levitin from a 2011 report on cancer patients which showed a reduction in anxiety levels, “We’ve found compelling evidence that musical interventions can play a health care role in settings ranging from operating rooms to family clinics. But even more importantly, we were able to document the neurochemical mechanisms by which music has an effect in four domains: management of mood, stress, immunity and as an aid to social bonding.”
The article reports “Results showed that music increases an antibody that plays an important role in immunity of the mucous system, known as immunoglobulin A, as well as natural killer cell counts, the cells that attack germs and bacteria invading the body. Listening to and playing music can also lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), according to Levitin and Dr. Mona Lisa Chanda, his postgraduate research fellow.’ Some of Pomegranate’s CPST groups use music therapeutically. Emmanuel, a psychiatric case worker explains, “We use music to teach self-expression, as well as emotional regulation, and mood stability. Its said, ‘music calms the savage beast’. It seems that sometimes the right song can do what all the counseling talk in the world could never do to connect with a deep emotional place.”

What type of music lifts your mood? Wakes you up? Soothes and relaxes you? Makes you sentimental? Reminds you of a place, time, or person? Do you have ‘a song’? Which song expresses you right now? Which song reminds you of a certain someone? What could people say about you, looking at your I-Tunes playlist? If you had to choose your own soundtrack from birth by 5-year intervals, what would it be? Which music couldn’t you do with-out if you could only take 10 songs with you to a desert island? (Author bets it is not the repetitious Little Drummer Boy, or the 12 Days of Christmas!) Read more at:

[Photo credit: Photo Shopped clip art composites- Pomegranate Health Systems]


About Communications

Communications and Social Media @ Sequel-Pomegranate Health Systems
This entry was posted in adolescent psychiatry, behavioral health, mental health, psychiatric care and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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