Effect of music on power, pain, and depression

I love reading formal studies.  Many add to the bodies of knowledge of subjects with which I’m concerned and interested.  One such study was one that sought to show whether or not music can increase feelings of power.  The study was called, “Effect of music on power, pain, and depression and disability.”

First of all, I dug how the authors defined power: knowing participation in change.  If I only gathered that definition, I would have loved the research because any research that seeks to increase people’s knowing participation in change is great in my book.  When people actively gather information, turn it into useful knowledge, and then use that knowledge to assume an active role in their lives, I know that they will guide their lives in healthy and positive directions.  When people use music as a resource to increase the idea that they CAN participate in change, then it’s like I’ve found the magic elixir that can change lead into gold.

Basically, what the researchers did was to have people self-select music, listen to it during pain/depression episodes and then write down how they felt and then fill out questionnaires pertaining to power, depression, and pain.  Of course, there were control groups and it was a lot more complicated, but in the end, the groups that listened to music felt less pain and depression and more power as a result of listening to music.

The study didn’t really surprise me; the fact that (as the study says), “Listening to self-selected music and researcher-provided music for 1 hour over a period of 7 days increased feelings of power, and decreased pain and depression” confirms what I’ve long-suspected: Using music to “change the channel” is effective. What that means is that, if someone feels bad, if he or she grabs their favorite music and lets it wash over his or her mind for a good amount of time, their negative feelings will change into postitive ones. The key (as is always the key) is to write about what the music means and analyzing the feelings about the music on paper.

Too often, people turn to unhealthy behaviors to change the way they feel, like drugs or alcohol.  But, more and more research is showing that actively listening to favorite music does wonders in helping people feel better.  Even physical pain benefits from music as other studies have shown that:

  • Listening to a tape of self-selected preferred music for 20 minutes has been shown to reduce perceptions of pain for women with rheumatoid arthritis during and after the intervention.
  • Listening to a researcher-provided tape of classical music for 20 minutes a day for 2 weeks has been shown to reduce perceptions of pain in older men and women with osteoarthritis.

So, the next time you feel horrible, try putting on your favorite music for around twenty (20) minutes and let the rhythms and melodies carry your bad juju away.  Really, if you write about how you feel before you listen, and then write about how you feel after you listen, I can bet that you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.  Music helps increase our sense of power.  I hope you give it a try….(I’ve included the research document, below)