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Music and Health – Benefits, Mental Health and Dementia

Listening to music can be a different experience for everyone, but we can all agree that music has its own power, whether it makes you feel nostalgic, helps you focus or boosts your mood. It is something that enables people to connect with others as well as having a positive effect on your mind, body and soul. However, working in the music industry as an artist could also be damaging to a person’s mental health if they do not seek the support that they need.

Positive Effects on Your Health

Listening to music releases dopamine which is responsible for the feeling of pleasure. When experiencing tension and then resolution in music, for example a drop in a dance track, it is universally satisfying because different brain circuits are involved in both the anticipatory and achievement process. Dopamine also helps with motivation and studies have shown that listening to music whilst working can increase efficiency. However, this depends on whether you had a choice in the music that you are listening to because if the music is out of your control it can cause stress and the positive effects will not occur because dopamine is released only when music is pleasurable in relation to your mood or personal taste.

Music is also known to increase helpful antibodies such as Immunoglobulin A which aids cells to attack bacteria or germs which are invading the body, meaning that listening to music can increase a person’s immune system. Additionally, it has been proven that listening to music strengthens your heart and lowers blood pressure depending on the type of music that you are listening to. Pop, Rap, Country and Reggae have the same effect on the body as they all get the blood pumping which makes you less calm and happier. Metal is believed to help cope with feelings of depression and stress. Classical music releases stress hormones and causes a dopamine rush.

Music and Mental Health

Music therapy has been proven by Levy (2017) to ‘reduce anxiety and physical effects of stress, improve healing, helps to manage Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, reduces depression and other symptoms in the elderly, decreased symptoms of psychological disorders including schizophrenia and finally it improves self-expression and communication.’ Music therapy is thought to help manage mental health problems in the ways listed above as well as help minimise the trauma and disruption associated with hospitalisation.

However, 73% of artists in the music industry suffer with mental illnesses according to Record Union. Although listening to music can relieve issues relating to stress, anxiety and depression, it has been said that working in the music industry as an artist can actually increase these negative emotions in relation to their creation of music. This can be caused by fear of failure, financial issues and also being lonely. Help Musicians UK have launched a 24/7 mental health support service for anyone in the music industry that may need some support or advice. Companies like these are here to support musicians at any time and are working on ways to prevent mental illnesses from becoming so common amongst young independent musicians.

Music and Dementia

The national Music For Dementia 2020 campaign has recently been announced which will help to encourage patients to find the right services. Its aim is to make music available to everyone who is living with dementia. Music helps to unlock memories and improve the quality of life for a patient. It allows them to communicate beyond words and bond with others which is something music can do for anyone. As previously mentioned, music can make anyone feel nostalgic and dementia patients respond best to songs that they grew up listening to as it can trigger emotions and personal memories which can help ease the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

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