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Monday, May 1, 2017

Music as Medicine: Exploring the Many Health Benefits

Man listening to music
When you get into your car, you probably turn on the radio to listen to music while you’re behind the wheel. But, have you ever wondered why this is a natural instinct? Intuitively, you know that listening to music is enjoyable. To help explain why we are naturally drawn to music, scientists have been researching how music affects us mentally and physically.

Music and Stress Relief
While you can’t eliminate stressful situations, you can choose healthy ways to cope. And, learning how to deal with stress is a powerful tool to help protect your health (and sobriety). In fact, stress has been associated with high instances of heart disease, obesity and depression.

To explore the health benefits of music as a tool in stress-reduction, many neuroscientists are researching how music can be used as a holistic therapy to treat anxiety.

Daniel Levitin is a psychologist studying the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal. Levitin and team are actively working to better understand how the brain responds to music. "We're using music to better understand brain function in general," says Levitin.

To conduct their research, Levitin and his colleagues studied patients who were scheduled to undergo surgery. The research participants were assigned to two groups. One group listened to relaxing music before their operation. The other group was given an anti-anxiety medication.

And, the results were surprising. The individuals who listened to music prior to their surgeries self-reported lower stress levels and exhibited lower cortisol levels (a stress-related hormone) in comparison to the other group.

"The promise here is that music is arguably less expensive than drugs, and it's easier on the body and it doesn't have side effects," Levitin said.

This study confirms the positive effects of music in regards to lowering stress and anxiety. And, the powerful benefits of music therapy have been shown to help aid in the treatment of depression and addiction disorders, in addition to many other conditions.


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