Seeking Anxiety Relief Through Music Therapy

Can Your Love for Music Put an End to Your Anxiety?

September 6, 2017
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Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States. The Anxiety and Depression Association for America estimates that 40 million Americans suffer from some form of anxiety problems. Anxiety disorders can range from mild to severe.

Fortunately, there are many ways that anxiety can be treated. Music therapy is one of the most popular that doesn’t require medication.

Is Music Therapy an Effective Treatment for Patients With Anxiety Disorders?

Music therapy first became popular in the late 1800s, but until recently, little research has been conducted on its effectiveness. According to a recent study by a duo of Iranian medical researchers from Urmia University of Medical Sciences and Ilam University of Medical Sciences, music therapy can be effective for treating anxiety and depression in patients suffering from cancer. Here is an excerpt of their methodology and findings (bolded emphasis mine).

“This quasi-experimental study was conducted attaching hospitals in Urmia city. A total number of sixty patients with depression and anxiety were recruited using random sampling method and divided into two groups of control and intervention. Patients in intervention group listened to light music at least 20 min per day for 3 days. The degree of patients’ anxiety and depression was assessed by Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale at baseline and 3 days after music therapy. Data were analyzed by SPSS version 13 using t-test, Pearson, and ANOVA tests.The results showed no significant differences between demographic variable of intervention and control groups. Our findings indicated a significant decrease in the level of depression and anxiety among intervention group.”

Tips for Defeating Anxiety through Music Therapy

Dr. Jeff Nalin, a psychotherapist with Paradigm San Francisco, created a guest post stating that music therapy can be highly effective for treating anxiety and depression. Nalin and other experts have provided the following insightful tips to make the most out of music therapy.

Make Sure the Program is Individualized

Every patient has a unique cognitive map, so it is important to tailor music therapy to their individualized needs. Your response to certain acoustics and brain wave patterns will play an important role in your therapy.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t participate in group music therapy sessions. However, the therapist will need to individualize certain elements of your therapy.

Think About Your Favorite Songs

You will need to think about some of your favorite songs before starting a music therapy program. These songs may or may not be appropriate for your treatment as a patient with an anxiety disorder, but your therapist will try to include them in the program if possible.

Use Music Therapy in Conjunction with Other Forms of Therapy

Nalin states that music therapy can be very helpful, but it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for other forms of treatment. Other forms of treatment should include:

  • Social skills training
  • Psychotherapy
  • Family therapy (if family members are contributors to your anxiety problems)
  • Anti-anxiety medications such as Niravam or Klonopin
  • Exercise

You will need to work with a psychotherapist and possibly a psychiatrist to develop the best treatment regimen.

Choose Music to Promote Exercise

Sally R. Connolly, a LCSW and a therapist at the Couples Clinic of Louisville in Kentucky, states that at least thirty minutes of exercise can treat anxiety more effectively and longer than an anti-anxiety medication.  Unfortunately, many people have a hard time staying motivated to complete their workout. Choosing certain songs for your workout can boost your adrenaline levels enough to push through the most painful parts of your workout.

A music therapist can help you choose the right exercise music to make it through your workout.

Music Therapy is a Great Solution to Anxiety Problems

When you are suffering from anxiety, music therapy can be a great option to consider. Find a great music therapist and work with them to find the right course of treatment.