Music Therapy For Anxiety Disorders
Written by Dr. Suneet Aurora & Dr. Gurpreet Kaur   

The study of the effects of music on the mind and brain has been a subject of interest for many. The interconnection between music and the physical and mental health of human beings has been researched since long. The research has concluded that music does have positive effects on the mind and brain of human beings. Music has the power of healing certain ailments. Indian classical music has been found to have the strongest healing powers. Be it about fighting anxiety, be it about speeding the healing process, music has come as an answer to all the queries.
ANXIETY Types
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
: It is a common chronic disorder characterized by long-lasting anxiety that is not focused on any one object or situation. Those suffering from generalized anxiety experience non-specific persistent fear and worry and become overly concerned with everyday matters. Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder to affect older adults.
 

Panic disorder: a person suffers from brief attacks of intense terror and apprehension, often marked by trembling, shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, difficulty in breathing.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD): This is known as social phobia, an intense fear of negative public scrutiny or of public embarrassment or humiliation. This fear can be specific to particular social situations (such as public speaking) or, more typically, is experienced in most (or all) social interactions.

Anxiety disorders are often debilitating chronic conditions, which can be present from an early age or begin suddenly after a triggering event. They are prone to flare up at times of high stress and are frequently accompanied by physiological symptoms such as headache, sweating, muscle spasms, palpitations, and hypertension, which in some cases lead to fatigue or even exhaustion.
Music: Solace to soul
Music plays a vital role in calming the nerves and soothing one’s mind. Flat musical notes induce sleep, while natural notes provide the mind with alertness. Music is found to affect the process of learning and thinking. If work is accompanied by quiet and soothing music, it helps the listener think, analyze and work faster in a more efficient manner. Music develops a positive attitude in the listeners and provides them with motivation. Surveys have shown that music brings about remarkable improvements in the academic skills of students, who are made to listen to certain kinds of music while studying or working in the lab. Listening to pleasant music, while doing a difficult task, can make it seem easier.
The effects of raga Desi-Todi played on a flute by a renowned Indian musician, Hari Prasad Chaurasia, were examined on 3 physiological assessments: namely breathing rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate and then on 4 psychological anxiety components namely depression, sweating, cognitive and behavioral) assessments. Fifteen students ageing between 20-24 of M.G.S.M. JANTA postgraduate college served as subjects. The subjects were asked to deliver a public speaking in the auditorium on various topics, and their assessment variables (symptoms and signs) were measured before the public speaking. A study group of 10 students were made to sit in a room playing classical music (Raga Desi Todi on flute by Pt Hari prasad Chaurasia) for 30 min prior to public speaking. A control group of 5 students were not given any music therapy before and after the public speaking. A pre and post treatment procedure was adopted for recording physiological and psychological assessments.
The results showed that the classical instrumental music led to a significant decrease in the scores on depression, state and trait anxiety, and the four components of anxiety; the systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate, however, was moderately affected. The control group, which was given no music to hear, showed no effect in the changes of the parameters.
How Music Cures anxiety?
Inside the brain is what we called adrenal glands, these glands releases glucorticoids a stress hormone that is released when the body system experience stress. However too much secretion of the said hormone can affect two organs that are both important for memory formation. These are hippocampus and amygdale. Prolonged exposure may lead to shrinkage of hippocampus and contrastingly leads to hyperactivity of the amygdala. Music therapy and Meditation stimulates the limbic system where amygdala could be found, it is fired in every meditation practice causing a feeling of regeneration physically, emotionally and spiritually. Thus, Music therapy and meditation can help you conquer panic anxiety attacks.
Indian classical music Vs Anxiety disorders
Indian classical instruments like Flute, Santoor, Sarod and Guitar are recommended for the enhancement of concentration and memory. Strong beats cause the brain waves to resonate in sync with the beat bringing about higher levels of concentration and alertness.
Certain ragas are known to activate all the chakras i.e. energy channels/centers of the listener’s body, thus benefiting him/her in the performance of other creative tasks.

Raga Timings
Famous musicians of India

Morning melodies: Nat Bhairav, Raga Bhairav, Ahiv Bhairav, Todi, Gujari Todi, Desi Todi. etc.
Evening Melodies: Raga Yaman, Puriya, Puriya kalayan, Puriya Dhan, Ashree etc.
Night Melodies: Raga Mankauns. Raga Darbari Kanhra etc.
Sitar: Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ustad Vijayal Khan, Pt. Nikhil Bannerjee, Pt. Debu Choudhary.
Flute: Pt. Hari Parshad Chourasia.
Santoor: Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma.
Sarod: Amjad Ali Khan
Guitar: Pt. Vishav Mohan Bhatt.
The passion for music differs as per genre whereby youngsters mostly love fast and groovy numbers. People of the older times love classical music whereas kids like rhymes and children music. Not only this, many are attracted to listen natural sounds such as chirping of birds, water falling from the mountains and religious chants.
The benefits of Music therapy, especially classical instrumental music on various psychological, medical and psychosomatic are evident, and a matter of more extensive research into application of non medical treatments of mild to moderate conditions/disorders of the three types. Since music affects the body and mind in many powerful ways, there is an urgent need to study morbid conditions like Cancers and other ‘incurable’ disorders where the component of stress, depression and anxiety is pronounced. Likewise Music Therapy can also be designed to promote wellness, Manage stress and pain, Ward off depression, Alleviate pain, To calm patients, Enhance memory, Improve communication, Promote physical rehabilitation, Ease muscle tension In this fast paced and rapidly changing world, the importance of music therapy is also on the increase. Public awareness about this therapy is necessary on a much wider scale, so that people enjoy increased access to quality music therapy services. Some commonly found areas where music therapy is mainly being used include developmental works with individuals with special needs and songwriting and listening in reminiscence/orientation work with the elderly. It is also used for physical rehabilitation in stroke victims by relaxation and brainwave synchronization.
 

1. Sampoorna Kayakalp Ayurveda Wellness Center, Ludhiana, Punjab.
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2. Principal and Head (Dept of Music),
M.G.S.M. JANTA postgraduate college, Kartarpur, Jalandhar, Punjab.
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