The Effects of Music Therapy for PTSD
Music can be an incredibly effective tool for relieving symptoms related to mental illness. Studies have demonstrated that it can reduce anxiety, boost moods and even enhance sleeping patterns. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is a condition which can be difficult to manage, often finds comfort through music therapy.
Treatments for PTSD symptoms, such as psychotherapy and medication management, exist. But music therapy has also been proven to be an effective method for relieving these symptoms. A recent pilot study funded by VA HSR&D funding revealed that using music to help Veterans manage their PTSD symptoms can be an effective non-medication self-management technique.
Music therapy has long been known to stimulate the release of positive hormones like oxytocin and endorphins, which have been known to reduce emotional distress and balance out cortisol – often an unregulated stress hormone in those suffering from PTSD.
Another significant effect of music therapy is its potential to reduce symptoms commonly linked to PTSD, such as dissociation and insomnia. This has been well-documented in numerous studies and is especially pertinent when dealing with PTSD since these symptoms can be debilitating and difficult to manage.
Recent studies have discovered that listening to soothing music significantly lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, by almost half an hour. This can be especially beneficial for those suffering from PTSD as it makes them feel emotionally relaxed which in turn helps alleviate symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
Other benefits of music therapy for PTSD include improved cognitive function, improved self-esteem and confidence, as well as decreased feelings of guilt or shame. This can be especially helpful to those suffering from PTSD who often struggle to express their emotions or who feel that their condition makes them appear weak or incompetent.
In Europe and Australia, Music and Imagery Therapy (MI) is the most common PTSD treatment. This utilizes principles of music-induced imagery developed by Bonny and adapted for trauma treatment with Trauma-focused Music and Imagery (TMI) . GIM involves 30-45 minutes of listening to carefully chosen movements from classical Western music.
This method has been utilized successfully in psychiatric patients to reduce symptoms of PTSD and dissociation, improve their sense of coherence, and potentially promote attachment restoration.
Research has demonstrated that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be successful for both adults and children suffering from PTSD, providing a viable alternative to traditional cognitive behavioral therapies. Furthermore, CBT may be useful for those who have experienced trauma but have not responded to more traditional psychotherapeutic interventions.
Music therapy is not suitable for everyone; it requires an understanding of its workings, an openness to listening and accepting the experience, as well as some effort and time.