Music’s Power On The Mind and Battling PTSD

Author : Marco Sgalbazzini
November 11, 2016

Music’s Power On The Mind and Battling PTSD

PTSD

Today the United States of America celebrates Veterans Day, an annual public holiday observed every year on November 11th that honors military veterans that have served in the United States Armed Forces. It also coincides with holidays in other countries including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of the end of World War I.

In the United States and beyond, millions of veterans have returned home from combat with hidden wounds, often suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The condition not only deeply affects them personally, but goes on to touch the lives of parents, friends, neighbors, cousins, nieces, schoolmates and other loved ones. PTSD is a disorder that affects countless others who haven’t served in the armed forces, but who were unfortunately subjected to a single or multiple traumatic experience at some point in their life including major stress induced by work or school, bullying, failing social/financial states, experiencing/surviving major natural disasters as well as physical and/or sexual assault.

Common treatments for PTSD range from psychotherapy to medication, but it has been discovered that music can also be a powerful tool in alleviating the effects of this crippling and dark disorder. Studies have shown that music can trigger the brain to release chemicals to distract the body and mind from the pain. How? Music, as well as binaural beats and isochronic tones which augment the effects, reach the brain’s auditory cortex, which causes the communication between the cortex and the sections of the brain that govern emotion, memory, and body control.

Of course we know that there are infinite styles of music in today’s world, and obviously not all would work the same way in relieving the symptoms of PTSD. It has been found that music and sounds with low pitches and a slow, steady beat are the very effective, although other soothing types of sounds including those produced from string instruments can work wonders.

While it may seem surprising, the type of music often used as healing meditation for PTSD recovery is in fact electronically-produced. Have a listen below and you can gain an understanding of why and how music with binaural beats and isochronic tones can be powerful in fighting off the effects of PTSD:

Some veterans who have listened to music like the above have reported fantastic results:

“Fireworks are going off all around me,  reminds me of being in Afghanistan :(  I just want to crawl somewhere safe & quiet.  I put on headphones & have been searching for music to help me get thru the night.  Nothing was helping, just worsening my PTSD/anxiety level until I found this.  My mind is focusing on listening to the sounds instead of the loud.” –  Lisa H

“This has been helping me, I won’t go into detail because of personal reasons, but it’s really helping my intrusive thoughts.” – Azure W.

“I have no more nightmares!” – Isaac T.

“I have suffered a traumatic brain injury back in 2010 and have experienced PTSD and symptoms that are similar since then, I get angry a lot easier than I used to and it’s a lot harder to control my emotions. When I first starting listening to these tones and beats it began to calm me down so much I actually broke into tears. It has been extremely difficult and time consuming for me to find things that actually help me with the symptoms of my brain injury, so to find something like this is extremely amazing and therapeutic. Thank you again.” –  Quarce C.

Music Therapy

As previously mentioned, other types of music can help too. The VA has doubled down on music therapy over the years, adopting programs that allow for veterans to play music themselves and to listen to music as a form of therapy. There’s a nationwide organization that helps Canada’s veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cope through music therapy is connecting soldiers home from war with a guitar and lessons. Guitar For Vets provides harmony for veterans by assisting their transition to civilian life while also providing a place for community — the organization uses music to empower the individual, giving new structural habits and opportunities for members to transcend themselves. The Wounded Warrior Project is another initiative that has recognized the power of music in helping veterans overcome PTSD. Operation Music Aid, based in Madison, Connecticut, was founded to supply guitars and keyboards to wounded military service personnel now in military hospitals for extended care. The nonprofit supplies the instruments to the hospitals and they are distributed as needed to assist in physical and psychological rehabilitation, as well as for morale.

Humans are hard-wired to respond to music, with studies suggesting that someday music may even be able to help patients heal from Parkinson’s disease or a stroke. Scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function, truly highlighting the potential of music’s power to change the brain and affect the way it works.