Effects of musical instruments on depression (15 ways they help)

In this article, we will explain the relationship and effect of musical instruments on overcoming and helping cure depression. As musical instruments have a calming effect on the mind and body, they have proven to be quite helpful in combating depression.

Effects of musical instruments on depression

Being able to play musical instruments has a positive impact and helps overcome depression, anxiety, and stress in an individual. Research has proven and shown how playing music or simply listening to it can help improve the deteriorating mental health of an individual. As it helps in communication skills, provides a platform to express yourself, and decreases anxiety levels. 

Here are different ways in which we can observe the effect of musical instruments on depression:

  • Improve mental performance and memory
  • Better at coordination and comprehension
  • Help relax mind and body
  • Provide a means of expressing self
  • A way to let out feelings and emotions
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Elevate mood
  • Decrease anxiety and stress
  • Reduce blood pressure and heartbeat
  • Is a physical exercise
  • Helps make new friends
  • Calms the mind 
  • Increased levels of dopamine in the brain
  • A platform to connect with others nonverbally
  • Provide an escape from your problems 

Improve mental performance and memory

Playing musical instruments can significantly improve mental performance and memory in an individual. Remembering the music notes and ensuring that the rhythm and tone are being matched requires a lot of cognitive skills. The level of attention and concentration required is very high while playing any musical instrument. During depression an individual experiences low concentration and attention span which subsequently also affects their mental performance and memory. Individuals report forgetfulness, absentmindedness, and feelings of being lost and of frequently daydreaming. All these can be improved and enhanced by playing a musical instrument. 

Better at coordination and comprehension

While playing a musical instrument there is a high requirement for hand-eye coordination as well as coordination between different parts of the body like hands, legs, mouth, eyes, etc. Playing a musical instrument requires the player to play the correct note at the correct time while ensuring that the timing of the movements of the other fingers is correctly done and is well coordinated. There is also a requirement of comprehending the musical sheet as well as the musical notes that are being played by the person. Playing an instrument provides us with a level of engagement that can help improve the mental state of an individual suffering from depression.

Help relax mind and body

During depression both mind and body are tense, stressed and many times individuals experience high levels of anxiety. Playing an instrument can help relax the mind and body as studies have shown that music has a positive influence on both. According to studies, uplifting and motivational songs can make us happy and motivated. Calming and soothing tones can provide an escape from the worrying and constant negative thoughts that are accompanied by depression.

Provide a means of expressing self

When you are playing any musical instrument it provides you with a platform to express your emotions, and feelings in a way that sometimes we are unable to do verbally. Especially if you’re feeling sad or anxious, playing an instrument will help release those emotions positively and healthily. Individuals who have difficulty expressing the negative thoughts that are present due to depression can find a more convenient outlet. Also, those individuals who do not wish to share their negative emotions with others can work through their emotions while playing a musical instrument.

A way to let out feelings and emotions

Depression can cause a lot of confusion and generate emotions and feelings that we are not familiar with. Feelings and thoughts like worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness that are present during depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions in some cases.  There is also a lot of anger and frustration built up because of these thoughts which can be released through music. A lot of metal and emo based songs and tunes can be used to let out such emotions and feelings. 

Increase self-esteem

Depression also affects our perception of self and is a major cause of low self-esteem and self-confidence among individuals. But by playing any musical instrument an individual can increase their self-esteem. With continuous practice and effort, an individual can get better at playing the instrument. This in turn increases their confidence as it makes them believe that they are good at something. This can further ignite their belief that if they work hard and put in continuous effort they can achieve their dreams and goals.

Elevate mood

According to studies both amusing and playing musical instruments can elevate sad and depressed moods in an individual. Songs and uplifting beats have a positive effect on the mind and can motivate and bring happiness to an individual. Being able to play an instrument provides a distraction from the negativity in life. It renders a break from the constant low and depressing feeling. 

Decrease anxiety and stress

As the mood is lifted and the tensions of daily life are forgotten while playing a musical instrument, it can ultimately help decrease anxiety and stress too. The nervousness and stress that is felt during performing other activities are not experienced while playing a musical instrument. It provides the individual with an opportunity to make mistakes, learn from them immediately and see the progress they are making instantly. This helps decrease the pressure of being perfect and reduces anxiety and stress. 

Reduce blood pressure and heartbeat

Depression, anxiety, and stress all have negative side effects on the mind but as well as on the physical body of an individual. With the reduction in the symptoms of depression like low concentration and attention span, low self-esteem, lack of interest in hobbies and other flat pleasurable activities. There is also a reduction in blood pressure levels and heartbeat. The individual is more likely to have a stable heartbeat and normal blood pressure levels. 

Is a physical exercise

One of the common recommendations for dealing with depression and overcoming it is engaging in physical exercise. Even though you might be sitting in one spot for the whole duration, playing an instrument is considered a physical exercise. There is a lot of body movement required even if we do not notice it. 

Helps make new friends

Playing any musical instrument can help you make friends as you can find individuals who share the same interest as you. That is, playing the instrument, creating new tunes, or simply discussing different types of music can provide a great bonding platform. Due to depression, we withdraw ourselves from social interactions. But with the help of music, individuals can find a way back to being a part of social interactions. 

Calms the mind 

Music has a calming effect on the mind and the same holds for musical instruments. The vibrations and tones of certain songs and scales can help relax the tension in the body and the mind. They help the body experience tension and an anxiety-free environment and let positive emotions take their place. As the mind calms, the intensity of negative emotions and thoughts that come with depression also reduce. 

Increased levels of dopamine in the brain

On a biological level, musical instruments have been seen to help in the production of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is essential in elevating and stabilizing mood and helping overcome depression. It is a neurotransmitter that increases when we engage in pleasurable activities and helps the brain know what we enjoy doing. Playing instruments can help increase dopamine indicating to the brain that the individual is happy. 

A platform to connect with others nonverbally

While collaborating with other musicians to create new music or practicing tunes as a group helps an individual to connect with their band members in a nonverbal manner. While playing music together an unsaid bond is created between each member of the band that represents a healthy social support system. During depression we tend to feel alone and like no one understands us but joining a band can change that and make us feel a part of a group. 

Provide an escape from your problems 

Music can take us to new worlds and help us escape from our troublesome reality. It provides a chance to escape the constant negative thoughts that run through one’s brain during depression. An individual can leave their problems and tension behind to create something new and positive. It lets an individual be free from their day-to-day tensions and spend time doing what makes them happy.

Research on effects of musical instruments on depression

Hays and Minichiello have reported that training to interpret music and play the piano can reduce stress and some facets of the life quality measures in older individuals. Many ≥ 65 years of age who engaged in playing music showed increased self-esteem, greater freedom, and fewer feelings of loneliness. Performing music has provided a brief break from the pressures of everyday life. 

Seinfield and colleagues compared the piano training program to the experimental group (non-playing) and observed that those practicing piano showed a reduction in psychological pain, exhaustion, and exhaustion. Playing an instrument may have a positive effect on the well-being of older adults during their lives by encouraging independence and empowerment.

FAQs: Effects of musical instruments on depression

Does playing an instrument help with depression?

Yes, playing an instrument helps with depression as studies have shown it reduces stress and anxiety. Playing a musical instrument can lead to upliftment in the mood, bring excitement and happiness, reduce stress and tension.

How does playing an instrument affect your mental health?

A study by Spotify reported that 89% of their listeners who play an instrument said that it positively affected their mental health. It helped by increasing feelings of joy, calmness, and happiness. 

What type of music helps with depression?

According to research listening to uplifting and positive music helps with depression. Contrary to popular belief it is more effective than listening to sad music. Therefore mood shifting music was reported to be the best option.

How does music reduce depression?

Listening to music has been linked to the release of oxytocin also known as love neurotransmitter. This neurotransmitter is essential in reducing depression, so music helps with the production of oxytocin. 

Does music relieve stress?

According to research music does relieve stress and the participants who listened to songs that held good memories for them helped. Certain happy and mood boosting music tunes have proven to help reduce stress levels. 

Why is playing an instrument bad for you?

In case of environmental and internal pressure playing an instrument can be bad for you. The pressure of being perfect can take its toll on an individual. 



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