Music as an Antidepressant: Turning up the jams to turn up your mood

We all know the feeling of turning on our favorite song at the end of a long day or in the midst of traffic, it always boosts our mood. Using music to match or raise your mood is something we all engage in, but what we may wonder is, is it really music that heightens our well being? And if music can bring us up, can it also bring us down? Researchers have been wondering and exploring the same concept, can music act as an antidepressant, and if it can, how effective is it? In this article we are going to explore the therapeutic qualities of music and whether or not it can change your mood for better, or for worse.
For those suffering from anxiety and depression, researchers have found that music can act as an antidepressant. To get technical, music affects the hippocampus, the parietal love, and your prefrontal cortex. If you are wondering what those are and how they work with music, you aren’t the only one. All three parts are essential parts of your brain that process memories, moods, orientation, and impulses. Music has been linked to altering these parts of your brain, and therefore your mood. When happy music is played your brain is stimulated and two hormones, known as serotonin and norepinephrine are released alongside a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This combination of intense sounding words creates a sensation we all know and love, euphoria. This emotion creates happiness, even if temporary, and will give you the sense of well-being. Still not convinced that music can help? A common symptom of depression and anxiety is a lack of motivation, to take care of yourself, to complete daily functions, and to even exercise. Using the same hormone and neurotransmitter mixture, motivation comes with the right pump up jam. We all have our tune we put on right before we gear up to clean our house or head out for a workout. For some, music creates a strong sense of can-do attitude. So if you’re wondering why the song “Eye of the Tiger” seems to always get you in the mood to take a lap around the block or finally tackle weeding through your wardrobe, then you are not alone.

So, turning on your favorite song can make you happier and more motivated, but that is not all. Music tackles perhaps a leading root cause to bouts of anxiety and depression, stress. While turning on your favorite tune won’t solve the stressor, it will help relieve any tension. Music can relieve physiological symptoms of anxiety, like quickened heart rate and tense muscles. With the right soothing music, you can trick your brain into relaxing and uplift your mood. Creating a tension free and happier life can lead to better health, greater life satisfaction and even a better outlook on life. Acting as an antidepressant, music can change your perception on negative events or feelings. The heightened sense of euphoria can turn a horrible day around. If you’ve ever found yourself clocking out of work after a stressful day, finding an uplifting song can help relax some of your work days, and help you create a happier home environment.
It’s not just listening to music that can help lift your mood, music therapy is growing in popularity because of its successful reviews in 2009. Music and the creation of music allow individuals to access their emotions and work through any challenges. To create something beautiful out of turbulent emotions can not only be relaxing but also act as an antidepressant. Researchers found that some musical exploration in therapy sessions can help those with depression open up to their therapists. Wordless communication through music can actually relax and uplift while opening up forms of dialog. Music as a form of therapy can help those who don’t have clinical depression as well, taking a moment to be creative can offer positive sensations.

Penn State University answered the question of ‘which music should I be listening to?’ with a positive answer. Any music that you listen to can create a good mood, as long as it is music that you like. That includes rock music, punk music, and rowdy pop. However, make sure to select music with a positive message. A recent study showed that those who were exposed to sad music came out with an overall sad mood and attitude. It affects not only their current mood but their state of mind. The felt less confident taking on tasks and were more likely to recall memories that were coated in doubt, anxiety, and sadness. In the same study, they exposed half of their population to happy music and then asked the same mood and cognitive tests. Those who had listened to happy music with a positive beat and tone were more likely to remember happier times and had confidence and motivation. So while music can be an uplifter, listening to sad music can sway your emotions in the other direction.
Overall, music can act as an antidepressant, and while we are by no means instructing you to quit therapy or other mood-boosting activities, adding joyous music into your daily repertoire can make you happier. Not only will you feel better, you are more likely to view the events of your day in a more positive light and feel motivated to exercise or check a task off the list. This positive mood can also help others, good moods are often contagious, so not only will you be helping yourself, but you can help others. Having a positive outlook can also preemptively reduce stress and anxiety. Rather than having a hard work day and coming out anxious and depressed, you can alter your perception and be able to come home to a healthier lifestyle. Music is easy to access, modify to your tastes, and can also be creative outlet! Making or listening to music is a great step towards a happier life and one you can take today.

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