Healing with Music
Damages to the brain caused by depression, anxiety, and PTSD can leave long lasting effects. Part of your brain is made to function as an alarm system that helps with survival and clear and rational thinking. With anxiety and PTSD, this part of our brain can be triggered and can be more sensitive easier than normal. Millions of adults and children are affect by PTSD around the world.
The amygdala is the part of your brain that acts as your brain’s alarm system. The prefrontal cortex is your part of the brain that helps with decision-making and knowing when you are in fearful situations. With extreme levels of anxiety and PTSD, this part of the brain is damaged and does not always do the jobs when needed.
This article is about my experience with current struggles about being recently diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and clinical-cyclical depression. I will not be discussing what the reasonings why I was diagnosed, but I will be diving into my journey of healing and how music has been a key component.
I have been playing violin for 16 years and have been teaching privately for 7 years. Since I was a young child, I have had an anxiety disorder. Listening and playing music was my only way to help process emotions or to escape from reality. I would always imagine that I was in a famous orchestra or I would imagine myself on stage as a famous violin soloist. As I grew older, I realized that music was my passion and I could not see myself doing anything else with my life. I still struggled with anxiety and depression throughout most of my life, but being a violinist and teaching my craft always gave me hope and created excitement. Now that I am following my lifelong passion, I have struggles with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. I have been paying more attention to how my career is helping my brain heal and rebuild to its normal function.
Depending on the music, it can evoke emotions and moods whether it is happy, sad, relaxed, energized, or anger, or fear. In experiences with PTSD, injured or damages nerve pathways can be healing and stimulating by music. Music can help process emotions and memories that may be arousing to the brain. Listening to music and playing instruments can help the neuron pathways heal. Music is processed in both hemispheres of the brain and helps transfer information from one side to the other. Music and emotions and memories are processed through same nerve pathways. Music is able to regulate and help process emotions that PTSD has caused damage to. For example, playing instruments like the piano, drums, violin, and guitar used to help rewire the brain by using bilateral stimulation. Bilateral stimulation helps information move across both hemispheres of the brain. Since music is processed like this anyway, then it will help rebuild the brain so emotions and memories can do the same. Depending of the severity of anxiety, depression, and/or, PTSD, music therapy can also be a benefit to those who wish to seek help.
As a violinist, I have just learned the positive effects that my craft is making. It has been a growing and healing experience to even think that what I love to do is actually healing my body and brain at the same time. Music has such an astounding influence on how we live, how we process information, and how restorative it can be for all.