Sound of healing: How music can be your mental health therapy

Music therapy has gained recognition as an effective tool to promote mental health. Picture by Magic Bowls/Unsplash

Music therapy has gained recognition as an effective tool to promote mental health. Picture by Magic Bowls/Unsplash

Published May 10, 2023


Music is always there for us. Whether it's a catchy tune that gets stuck in our heads or a bittersweet ballad that moves us to tears.

But did you know that music can do more than just entertain us? Music therapy is a powerful intervention, and it can profoundly influence our mental health.

Firstly, music can help us manage stress. Whether you're dealing with a difficult work situation or struggling with a personal problem, music can be a great stress reliever. Listening to your favourite songs can help you relax and take your mind off of things. It's like having a personal soundtrack that helps you get through the day.

Music therapy has gained recognition as an effective tool to promote mental health.

Over the last few years, we've learned that singing in the shower isn't simply for people who want to sing without being heard, but research has proven to be beneficial for mental health and well-being as well.

Reduced anxiety and depression:

Music therapy has been found to significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. A 2017 review of 27 studies involving over 1,500 patients found that music therapy helped to lower symptoms of depression in those with mood disorders while reducing symptoms of anxiety in those with anxiety disorders.

A similar study involving cancer patients indicated that music therapy helped reduce anxiety levels as well as improve quality of life.

Improved cognitive function:

Listening to music can strengthen neural connections in the brain, leading to improved cognitive function. A study conducted in Norway found that music therapy helped to improve memory and attention in patients with dementia, while a study carried out in the US found that music can help to improve cognitive performance in healthy adults.

Management of chronic pain:

In addition to its positive effects on emotional well-being and cognitive function, music therapy has been found to be an effective tool in managing chronic pain.

A 2014 study by UK scientists revealed that music therapy helped to reduce the use of pain-killing medication in patients with chronic pain. The research also showed that music therapy improved patients' physical, emotional, and social functioning.

Autism spectrum disorder:

Music therapy can be an effective therapy for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Alternative mental health interventions such as music therapy can offer a non-invasive and effective way to improve mental health. Music therapy is a form of treatment that uses music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. It is a non-invasive, safe, and effective intervention that has been shown to have numerous benefits for mental health.

Picture by Tijs van Leur/Unsplash

Lastly, music can bring people together and promote social interaction. Whether it's through attending live music events, participating in music classes, or simply jamming out with friends, music has the power to connect us with others.

This social connection can help combat the feelings of loneliness and isolation that are all too common in our fast-paced, technology-driven world.

So, why not turn up the volume on your favourite tunes and let the music work its magic?

Whether you're a fan of classical music, rock, Amapiano or hip-hop, turn up the volume and let the healing power of music work its magic on your mind.

Read the latest issue of IOL Health digital magazine here.