Music is something that surrounds our everyday life whether songs are playing over the intercom system at grocery stores or from the radio as you’re driving. I often find myself jumping along happily to an upbeat song or sobbing to a melancholy one. It reaffirms our current feelings, whether joyous or turbulent. And with so many people having an attachment to music, it’s no wonder that music has been shown to have a beneficial effect on mental health.
Numerous studies have been carried out in order to determine the effect of music on our brains and overall mental health. For example, in 2011, a research study by McGill University found that listening to music increases dopamine in our brains. As this is the prime neurotransmitter in charge of feeling pleasure, the results open up countless new possibilities for treating conditions such as depression. Further studies point to the effectiveness of music in not just treating serious conditions but in our everyday lives.
Image Source: Paul Bradbury
A study led by Dr. Catherine Meads in Brunel University in England shows that music may aid in reducing pain and anxiety for those who have just undergone surgery. More than 7,000 patients were analyzed through 72 randomized trials, and those who listened to music asked for less pain medication and reported more satisfaction overall. Other studies report that music is also an effective stress reliever, something that many of us may already have discovered through our own experiences. For example, an experiment found that infants remained calmer for longer periods of time when music was played than when people spoke to them.
In addition to health benefits, music also has the potential in academics. For example, a 2013 study has found that music may aid in our ability to recall information. Sixty adults learning Hungarian were split into three groups: those who spoke the unfamiliar phrases, those who said the phrases in a rhythmic fashion, or those who sang them. Researchers found that those who sang the phrases had a higher recollection than the other two groups. So, the next time you’re studying? Try singing aloud.
As music may aid our memory, this has further potential for disorders that affect our memory, such as Alzheimer’s. Based on numerous studies, music has so much potential for not only treating serious conditions and disorders but also aiding our everyday life, whether it is in reducing stress or helping to study for a test. Music is something so universal, and it should be used more than just for emotional connections. Put on some music, whether in your home, in hospitals, or in school, because in the end, everyone benefits.
Feature Image Source: Pianist by Israel González.