How Does Music Therapy Relate to Bipolar Disorder?

“A mental disorder is a classified as a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome that occurs and that is associated with present distress or disability or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom.” (Peters, 2000). Although mental disorders may have a variety of manifestations and degrees of severity, they all are characterized by persistent, abnormal patterns of problem behaviors. These clients are sometimes described as having behavior disorders or behavioral disorders. Mental illnesses and disorders traditionally have been classified into two broad categories of neuroses and psychoses. A neurosis is a mental disorder primarily characterized by anxiety. This anxiety may be experienced directly and be the main manifestation of the disorder or it may be unconsciously controlled or modified to produce other distressing symptoms. A psychosis is a more severe mental disorder that is primarily characterized by loss of contact with reality. Individuals who have psychoses have delusions, hallucinations and an impaired ability to test reality. For many, a mental disorder can hinder a person from keeping a job, family, relationships and sanity. The psychiatric problems that occur in adults are more likely to be associated with the stresses of everyday adaptation or a more chronic reaction resulting from distress over a longer period of time. What many people don’t know is that someone can in fact live a relatively normal life with the help of many therapies, such as music therapy to be specific.

“Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” (2008). Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives. Bipolar disorder often develops in a person’s late teens or early adult years. At least half of all cases start before age 25. “In the acute phases of their illness, adults who have mental or behavioral disorders often display behaviors of intense confusion, agitation, excitability, fearfulness or withdrawal. They have a need to learn and develop positive coping mechanisms to deal with the stresses and responsibility of daily life.” (Peters, 2000). Some people have their first symptoms during childhood, while others may develop symptoms late in life. For example, Maria is a seventeen year old who has been suffering with bipolar disorder for two years. Her ups and down cycle average from two to three months. For the first couple of months, she is in a hypo maniac state where she goes out everyday, shops, spends excessive amounts of money, wears make up and loses a large amount of weight. The next couple of months she locks herself in her room, binge eats, gains weight, cries and completely cuts her connections with the outside world. Due to this unstable cycle, she has dropped regular school and had tried to take up homeschooling, lost all friends, unable to work for an allowance and feels worthless and hateful toward herself most of the time. Her battle with bipolar disorder has made it impossible for her to continue therapy for longer than a month at a time.

“During a depressive episode, the person has a persistent depressed mood (most of the day and nearly everyday) and several other symptoms such as diminished interest in activities that are generally enjoyable, changes in appetite or weight, changes in sleep patterns, agitation or lack of energy, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, and thinking clearly and thoughts of suicide. Symptoms may develop at a time of personal crisis but people can also feel depressed for no apparent reason.” (Davis, 1999). Most of the time, the symptoms can be nothing mysterious and can have a minimal effect on a person’s life. But, overtime, the episodes can get increasingly worse for longer periods of time. In a severe state, a person can become psychotic and the episode can last for up to six months if it is left untreated.

“During a manic episode, people may have decreased need for sleep, their thoughts may race and they may be extremely talkative. They may engage in wild spending sprees or take on unrealistic tasks.” (Davis, 1999). For the most part, a manic episode can be just as hurtful to a person as a depressive episode, if not more. During these times of feeling up and energized, it may seem that a person does not need their medication and that can lead to many more issues to a person with bipolar disorder. While treating these times, it can also help the person from not making poor decisions and having to deal with the repercussions later on during a depressive episode. Many of these symptoms are also present in a hypo manic episode. A hypo manic episode is similar to a manic episode, but the symptoms may be experienced to a lesser extent and do not normally affect a person in their daily life.

“Music therapy is defined as a planned, goal-directed process of interaction and evaluation of individual client’s specific needs, strengths, and weaknesses, in which music or music-based experiences are specifically prescribed to be used by specifically trained personnel to influence positive changes in an individual’s condition, skills, thoughts, feelings, or behaviors.” (Peters, 2000). It is a process that takes place over time and involves growth, change, and development. The process of music therapy may include various musical, creative, artistic, therapeutic, developmental, educational, interpersonal, behavioral and scientific components as music therapist and client interact over time in both musical and non-musical areas. Under the direction of a trained music therapist, the music based experiences become potent therapeutic tools that can predictably and effectively influence positive changes in an individual’s condition, skills, thoughts, feelings or behaviors. Once a client has been assessed, evaluated, and individual therapeutic goals have been formulated, the music therapist designs a series of specific music and rhythm-based experiences that will help the client reach these goals and objectives. Music therapists often work directly with other professionals on medical or educational treatment teams. When they work in teams, these specialists meet together and decide how to coordinate their services in a way that will best help the client meet certain therapeutic goals. Treatment for psychiatric disorders often involves a combination of approaches and interventions including a structured environment, a regime of medication, a variety of psychotherapeutic interventions and a program of activity therapies. It is important to remember that individuals with mental disorders are unique and no one treatment or combination of treatments will be right for every person in therapy. Therapists who follow a humanistic approach give unconditional acceptance to the client with genuine caring, acceptance, understanding, and respect. The therapist helps the client move beyond defenses and mental or emotional blocks to confront the basic questions of life, find meaning and move to a higher level of functioning. Therapeutic techniques are experimental, oriented to building a trusting relationship, and are designed to help the client make choices, build an internal frame of reference and take personal responsibility to find purpose and meaning in life.

There are many songs that can be beneficial for people with bipolar disorder to listen to when going through a difficult time in their life. When choosing songs in a therapy environment, it is important to look at the lyrics to see if they are sending the right message to the clients. Some songs that would be beneficial for a therapist to use in a session are Keep Breathing, Empty Bottle, and A Birds Song by Ingrid Michaelson, It’s Only Life by Kate Voegel, If No One Will Listen by Keri Noble, Angel by Sarah McLaughlin, Amazing Grace, Beauty From Pain and Stand in the Rain by Superchick, Hope and Joy, On I Fight by Joy Ike, Give it Time by Jon McLaughlin, Keep Holding On by Avril Lavine, Lean on Me by Bill Withers, and Quiet Your Mind by Zac Brown Band. Each of these songs has inspiring lyrics to keep therapy enjoyable and encouraging. For relaxation purposes the songs Keep Breathing, Amazing Grace, and Angel are an excelled choice because of their simple melodies and graceful accompaniment that will enable you to focus on what is going on with you and will also enable you to do simple movement exercises. The songs Beauty From Pain, A Birds Song, Keep Holding On, On I Fight, Give It Time, If No One Will Listen, Quiet Your Mind, and It’s Only Life are a good choice for encouraging clients because of the lyrics saying how things will get better and how you have to keep pushing through all of the hard times that are in a clients way. The remainder of the songs is just good to have in therapy because of the messages that they give through the lyrics.

In conclusion, bipolar disorder can have crippling effects on people’s lives, but with music therapy, there can be hope. The field of adult psychiatry deals with preventing and treating mental, emotional and behavioral disorders in adults. Although psychiatric illnesses and disorders may vary greatly in severity and exact type of symptoms manifested, they all are characterized by persistent, abnormal, patterns of behavior. Music therapy is a non-invasive way to make connections with a therapist and communicate without being in an environment where it can be intimidating. With the right interventions and a good relationship with a therapist, the road of therapy can be very successful.

The Benefits of Music Therapy Using Binaural Beats

Music therapy or binaural beats have been around for a long time, over 170 years.  These beats use two different frequencies, one in each ear that helps stimulate the brain to help you relax.  The beats are set into soft relaxing music often with sounds of nature such as birds chirping or waterfalls etc.  

The benefits from the different frequencies, and the positive effects it has on the mind and body is good.  There are four different frequency waves that are used in music therapy, and they are, Delta, Theta, Alpha, and Beta, and each one has it’s own benefit.

Delta waves which is 1-3 Hz, and the benefits are, if you are having trouble sleeping, it is also good for lucid dreaming, which can help you if you have constant nightmares, and it also helps increase immune functions.

Theta waves which is 4-7 Hz, and the benefits are, it’s good for deep relaxation or meditation, hypnosis, also to increase memory, and to help you focus better.

Alpha waves which is 8-13 Hz, and the benefits are, that it will help you with light relaxation (while awake), also helps with learning, and positive thinking.

Beta waves which is 13-25 Hz, and the benefits are, that it will help with normal state of alertness, busy or anxious thinking, active concentration, and relieves stress, and anxiety.

The biggest benefit is that you don’t have to go to a therapist to get this treatment, you can do it in the comfort of your own home.  So many people have never heard of music therapy, or sound therapy, because of the fact that you had to go see a doctor, and get referred to a therapist who deals with these kinds of problems.  Like always doctors don’t want people to know about these kinds of treatments that you can do at home, because they will lose money.  You know how it works, they want you to see a therapist that they recommend so they get a commission, then once you see a therapist they want you to go and see them two or three times a week for a month, this can be very expensive, and inconvenient.

In conclusion, there is no reason that you can’t do this in the comfort of your own home.  When you see a therapist they put you in a room by yourself with headphones and they make you listen to the music for a certain amount of time, and that’s it, and make you go back several more times.  You can do the same thing at home, find a quiet place and put on some headphones, and just relax and listen to the music, and save yourself some money, it’s the same thing!  If you would like more information on music therapy or binaural beats see link bellow.

Music Therapy – Improving Health

If listening to a classical concerto makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, music therapy may unlock the secrets to life’s many mysteries for you. Similarly, if hearing an Abba song or even a cheesy old Marie Osmond recording makes you swoon with joy and delight and can bring you out of a funk, then music therapy may be just what you need.

Music therapy is thought to originate in veterans’ hospitals, helping those who came back ravaged from the war acclimate better to the often traumatic injuries they suffered.

Actually, music therapy is not as daft as it may seem. The idea is that music is used as a therapeutic vehicle to achieve goals that are not really related to music at all. The parallels are obvious: speech and singing, walking and movement, rhythm and motor skills. As music has been scientifically proven to enhance mood as well, it’s thought that music therapy can optimize people’s abilities to interact and communicate on many, many levels.

People who can benefit from music therapy are manifold. They can be both adults and children, either those who suffer from certain disabilities, or those who have chronic health problems. Advocates of this type of therapy say it works in a variety of ways, and can improve not only an individual’s emotional well being, but also help them physically, cognitively, socially and even on an aesthetic level.

Some people find it hard to communicate for a variety of different and varied reasons that are either developmental, social and/or physical, and feel that communication through or with the use of music is the best way to open up. Music is used purely as a vehicle; it’s thought that the communication between the patient and the therapist is the most crucial aspect.

According to the American Music Therapy Association website, music therapy can:

* promote wellness

* manage stress

* alleviate pain

* express feelings

* enhance memory

* improve communication

* promote physical rehabilitation

History of Music Therapy

The use of music to make us feel happy has been around for time immemorial, while the therapeutic effects of music have been recorded more than 1,500 years ago. The idea of music as an established therapy, however, has only been around since World War II, at least in the United States.

Music therapy is thought to originate in veterans’ hospitals, helping those who came back ravaged from the war acclimate better to the often traumatic injuries they suffered. An undergraduate degree program in the discipline was founded at Michigan State University not long after, and the rest is history. Many universities now offer degree programs in music therapy, and it is not as uncommon as you might think.

In case it all looks a tiny bit airy-fairy, rest assured that contemporary music therapists must go through intense training before they become certified. This includes not only gaining counseling and health skills, but also reaching proficiency levels in guitar, voice, music theory, piano, improvisation, and music history and reading music, as well as other disciplines.

Music Therapy and Strokes

Music therapy to help people with strokes is seen as being especially important as music has been shown to have a strong impact on the brain, affecting particularly social interactions and emotions. The therapy has been proven to help people who have experienced strokes improve their speech and communication, cognition, mood, motivation, movement and muscle control.

This can be accomplished by a variety of exercises set out by a trained music therapist. They include rhyming, chanting and singing to exercise mouth muscles, playing on the drum to exercise arm muscles and control and creating songs to match the patient’s gait.

Particular emphasis is put on exercises that can increase mood and motivation, which in turn affect a lot of other activities. They include song-writing, lyric writing, performing, improvisation and more. “The emotional and aesthetic qualities of music are used to improve mood, to increase motivation, and to assist in pain management,” says the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function.

Music Therapy and Heart Disease

Music therapy can also help heart patients. An American Heart Association Scientific journal reported the results of an Italian study saying that music can “synchronize and influence” the cardiovascular system, and that crescendos increased the heart rate and lowered blood pressure.

Previous studies showed that music could be used as a therapeutic tool for people with neurological impairments. The studies showed that music improved athletic performance, enhanced motor skills and reduced stress overall for people with impaired brain function.

There is also evidence that music therapy can help limit nausea and vomiting experienced by cancer patients on a course of chemotherapy, and that it can help alleviate symptoms of depression and insomnia.

Music Thanatology for the Sick and Dying

Another aspect of music therapy that is less widely prescribed is known as music thanatology, dervied from the Greek term “thanatos”, which means death. It involves the use of music to help with the physical and spiritual care of people who are dying, and to help their loved ones deal with the grief when they eventually do pass away. Incorporating the use of music in palliative care programs is becoming more and more common, as people begin to understand the benefits it can bring.

Music thanatology can take many forms. Sometimes a trained musician will come to a dying person’s home and play harp music for them. Other times people will play a “music vigil” for the dying patient, easing their passing and providing support and comfort to their friends and relatives as well.

“The goal is to support the patient and family, not to seek applause. Some musicians avoid using words like ‘perform’ or ‘performance’ to describe what they do, because these words may put focus on the person creating the music rather than on the patient for whom the music is being played,” says, whose motto is “Improving care for the dying”.

A music-based approach has been scientifically proven to help people in many aspects of their lives. Both children and adults can benefit from its application. Look for a music therapist near you if you think you or someone you know could benefit from this well established health care profession. And the next time you hear a rendition of Paper Roses, suppress the urge to run the other way and think how much it could do for you…

The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care an appropriate health care provider.

Getting Started With Autism Music Therapy

Studies and anecdotal evidence alike are clearly showing that therapy based on music can have a significant impact on reducing the symptoms of autism in children including undesirable autistic behaviors. Music therapy is a form of autism treatment based on carefully planned musical exercises and experiences. It is carefully evaluated before, during, and after every session so that it can be altered to best suit the individual needs of the autistic child. There are many different elements involved in autism music therapy, including:

– Listening to music
– Creating music
– Singing along to music
– Moving or dancing to music
– Playing musical instruments of any kind

This form of music therapy can have a notable positive outcome when treating children with various types and levels of autism. Participation in this kind of therapeutic assistance provides the children with the chance to be exposed to carefully measured and chosen, non-threatening stimulation, since no human contact is required.

Music therapy is beneficial as it can be tailored to specifically meet the unique needs of the child based on their own autism symptoms and their tastes and preferences. This ability to customize the therapy is very important as every case of autism is different from others and what may be very effective for one child may create negative results in another. To accomplish this customization, there are several kinds of music therapy that can be used on their own or in conjunction with one another.

The results of autism music therapy is far reaching and touches on many elements in the child’s life. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

– Socio-emotional development – Autistic children frequently struggle with (or ignore) social contact efforts made by other people. Using music therapy, children can be drawn out of social withdrawal through their relationship with the music or an instrument of their choice. The music works as an intermediary between the child and people around them.

– Verbal and non-verbal communication – Singing and dancing to music helps autistic children to improve their speech vocalization and express themselves physically. Many mental processes are stimulated by listening to and producing music, such as symbolizing, conceptualizing, and comprehension. Often, autistic children find it easier to accept different sounds than verbal speech. Music is therefore a good transition to get them used to sounds. Furthermore, when playing wind instruments and singing, the children become more familiar with the various parts of their mouths and how to manipulate them for speech and other purposes.

– Emotional fulfillment – Many autistic children struggle to respond effectively with stimuli in their environment, making it difficult to enjoy a full emotional experience. Therefore, since the majority of autistic children respond well to the stimulus of music therapy experience, autistic kids can enjoy a fear-free experience for a full emotional moment.

Autism music therapy sessions are generally very flexible, allowing the children the opportunity to learn and express themselves at their own pace and to their own preferences and taste, achieving great emotional satisfaction.