A number of years ago, I was invited to speak to the department of Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston about the power of music to improve health literacy and to improve relaxation and sleep. You can find many examples of my music on HealthRock.Bandcamp.com/music.
Now a new study published in the journal Menopause reported on a study that investigates the ability of music to be considered as an alternative to pharmacologic solutions for menopause symptoms.
The menopause symptoms known to most women transitioning through it are hot flashes, sleep disturbances, depressed mood, vaginal dryness and sexual dysfunction and joint and muscle pain. Every woman is different and will have different challenges.
While there have been a growing number of studies evaluating the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), meditation and mindfulness, there have been fewer studies that address the benefits of music as a salve for some menopause symptoms. But it only makes sense…think how much better you feel when you listen to your favorite song, or how relaxed you feel when a slow, beautifully performed piece of music is played. It can make you slow down, breathe deeply, and become present. In fact, ancient cultures believed that music could heal the body and soul.
Music gains it therapeutic powers from the fact that it stimulates the secretion of substances in the brain that include dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins and oxytocin (the feel good hormones). At the same time, music has the power to decrease the level of circulating stress hormones such as cortisol. The combination of these changes can influence blood pressure, as well as heart and respiratory rates.
It’s well known that menopause can trigger at-risk women to develop depression once the peri menopause begins. And earlier studies have show that music therapy can help to improve depressive symptoms in patients with severe psychotic and nonpsychotic mental disorders. Music therapy is also helpful in preventing postpartum depression.
The current study investigated the effects of music therapy on menopause symptoms and the risk of depression in menopausal women. It is a small study, but very important…the researchers concluded that listening to music can significantly decrease depression scores and help to reduce the symptoms of menopause in postmenopausal women. If you are having these menopause symptoms, music could be used as a nonpharmacologic therapeutic option to help you feel better.
The article is entitled “The effect of music therapy on menopausal symptoms and depression: a randomized-controlled study.”
The benefits of this study are that a very low-tech, low-cost, low-risk treatment may offer at least some women a significant improvement in their symptoms. For women suffering with mood disorders, this is particularly important. While more research is needed, this is a great beginning to what I hope is a lot of women being offered music to soothe the soul and their menopause symptoms.
If you would like to listen to samples of my award-winning relaxation music visit healthrock.bandcamp.com/music. The first three albums are perfect examples of instrumental ambient music designed for this very purpose. Musicians performing on these albums include Ben Schwendener on piano, Ewe Steinmetz on sax and flute, Bridget Kearney on bass and Mike Calabrese on drums. Bridget and Mike are currently members of the Indie Group Lake Street Dive.