One-third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety and depression since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States and forced Americans into social isolation.
But the sound of music is helping some people change the way they think and feel.
“It can just rewire the brain to do things that it wasn’t already doing,” explained Ashley Marie Lewis, a music therapist.
Lewis said her meetings have been moved online, but the pandemic has not silenced her mission of helping others through music.
Jason Bailey was in the middle of writing a musical, finishing his master’s degree, and playing weekly live performances when the coronavirus shut down the show.
“It was exactly the perfect storm to hit me in a way that I was not prepared to handle. I had some full-blown panic attacks,” said Bailey, a professional musician.
That’s when he found music therapy.
“I have definitely gotten new mechanisms to help me deal with stress,” Bailey said.
In an analysis of 400 studies, music therapy improved the body’s immune system, reduced pain, decreased stress, and was found more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery.
Lewis uses stress-relieving techniques like lyric analysis to treat depression and lyric fill-in can help those with memory loss.
“So over time, the brain will actually change its chemistry,” said Lewis.
Proving that music can mend minds.
Lewis said music therapy is not meant to replace medication for problems like anxiety or depression, but to enhance it. Although listening to music at home can be very therapeutic and it does trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin to lift our spirits, it’s not the same as experiencing music therapy with a certified therapist.