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The Healing Power of Music: The Multiple Ways That Music Can Aid in Recovery


Music therapy is a growing field in psychology. Music helps patients recover speech after suffering a stroke or reduces stress in situations dealing with chronic illness and disease. There are various styles of music, and specific types do particular things, such as help someone get through painful chemotherapy or physical rehab sessions or help guide meditation. Music therapy involves playing music yourself, having music played with you, or having music played for you. Luckily, technology makes it easy to access any music to adapt to any situation. When you are feeling stressed, listening to your favorite music and songs makes you feel better, and multiple studies support this positive association. 

Music’s Influence During Infancy

When a baby is born, they go to the hospital nursery, which can be a noisy and busy area, full of nurses and doctors. For a baby born prematurely, the noises in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) include ventilator beeps, IV infusion pumps, the moving of carts, murmurs of voices, and the hiss of the oxygen. Studies indicate that musical sounds such as lullabies may soothe these pre-term babies, which improves their sleeping and eating habits, and therefore improves their quality of life and positively impacts their medical outcome. Furthermore, research finds that infants remain calmer and for longer periods when they listen to music, rather than when they simply hear speaking. 

Music Has the Ability to Relax and Heal

Music can induce emotional responses that may relax, stimulate, and heal. It can even improve one’s quality of life and the results of medical interventions. Music is an effective form of therapy that provides an outlet for emotions. Studies endorse the exponential benefits of music on physical and mental health. For example, an analysis of 400 separate studies found that music reduces stress and improves the body’s immune system. The researchers also found that listening to music, as well as playing music, increases the body’s production of antibodies that attack viruses and boost the effectiveness of the immune system.

Furthermore, music reduces the levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol. Many researchers believe that music eases pain because listening to it releases the brain’s natural pain relievers, known as dopamine. Studies indicate that listening to music increases the brain’s levels of dopamine, which enhances mood, and therefore positively impacts the symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression.

Studies find that listening to music can reduce anxiety before procedures or surgeries which may be stress-inducing, such as knee or hip surgeries and routine colonoscopies. Those listening to music in operating rooms before procedures and during recovery following procedures report experiencing less discomfort and therefore require fewer painkillers. The positive results of music were stronger for patients who were able to choose their music. Furthermore, listening to music decreases the perception of pain, therefore reducing the amount of pain medication required. Music can also reduce nausea and vomiting among patients receiving chemotherapy and improve coordination, communication, and reduce agitation among dementia patients. Also, epileptic patients may reduce seizure activity through listening to relaxing music, since stress causes seizures to occur and music battles stress. Music also positively affects fibromyalgia patients, which is a chronic disorder that causes joint and muscle pain and fatigue. Studies find that listening to relaxing music that the patient chose themselves reduces pain and significantly increases functional mobility.

Music Can Help Restore Speech Abilities and Memory

A study found that stroke patients with communication problems after the stroke exhibited improved language ability after one month of neurologic music therapy. The ability to sing comes from the right side of the brain. Therefore, when someone suffers a traumatic brain injury or stroke to the left side of the brain, which is responsible for speech, they can work around the injury to the left side by singing their thoughts using the right side of the brain. Then, they work to drop the melody to regain their ability to speak gradually. Therefore, active engagement in listening to or playing music allows people to reconnect with the healthy parts of themselves, even while dealing with a debilitating or disease. 

Music is closely connected to memory recall. Next to smell, sound is one of the most connected senses to memory. We can all appreciate that certain songs trigger emotional responses, whether they be the first dance at our wedding or reminders of a loved one we have lost. Music is ingrained into our brains and our bodies and creates a deep connection within ourselves. A study published in the Journal of Memory and Cognition found that adults learning a foreign language can recall phrases more accurately when they sing them, suggesting that music may aid memory recall for adults in the early stages of dementia.

Dealing with a Substance Use Disorder and Looking to Enhance Your Quality of Life?

When dealing with a substance use disorder, it is imperative to engage in improving one’s life. Music promotes recovery by enhancing one’s quality of life. Researchers the world over continue to investigate the therapeutic potential of music and the results are promising. The benefits of music are omnipresent in the research and throughout the human population which confirms these benefits daily. Music may also help with recovery from substance use disorders, positively impacting stress, anxiety, and depression levels. If you or someone you know is dealing with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call Enlightened Solutions today at 833-801-LIVE.