Music as Medicine – Rx: Your Favorite Song
Whether I am training with weights or on a cardio machine at the gym, I always bring my headphones so my playlist keeps me moving.
However, music does so much more than pump us up for our workout. We all know music can affect our mood. It can make us feel relaxed, excited, mellow or happy. Studies show that listening to music actually can release endorphins, our feel-good hormones. We all know music can also remind us of a happy moment in our lives.
My husband surprised me at our wedding by singing Pride and Joy by Steve Ray Vaughan and to this day I cannot hear that song without smiling. It takes me right back to that special moment.
Learning music or playing an instrument can help our brain function and now music is being used as therapy for dementia patients and as a way to manage physical pain. Studies show the type of songs we listen to often reflect our state of mind. For instance, listening to sad music after a break-up can provide a substitute for what we no longer have. In other words, music can act like that empathetic friend.
The benefits or music are so strong that it is now being prescribed by medical providers as a type of treatment, just as medicine would be.
Here are five healing benefits of music.
Music can be used to improve and maintain our mental health by helping us overcome anxiety and depression and improving self-esteem. Studies show that listening to music can benefit overall well-being, help regulate emotions, and create happiness and relaxation in everyday life.
Specific research has been done to prove that patients who listen to music before and after surgeries or physical injuries required less pain medication. This is a positive step toward tackling the ongoing opioid crisis.
A Stanford study shows that music engages areas of the brain which are involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in our memory. Other research shows that the repetitive elements of rhythm and melody help our brains form patterns that enhance memory. In a study of stroke survivors, listening to music helped them experience more verbal memory, less confusion, and improved attention.
Music therapy has also been used to help enhance communication, coping, and expression of feelings such as fear, loneliness, and anger in patients who have a serious illness, and who are in end-of-life care.
Studies of children with autism spectrum disorder who received music therapy showed improvement in social responses, communication skills, and attention skills.