How music plays into mental health


Jason Neubauer, Staff Reporter

Music is a key part of students’ lives. From getting into cars and leaving the parking lot, to working on assignments in class, students are consistently listening to music. But that same music students listen to every day for entertainment can have a tremendous impact on their mental health. 

Simply listening to music while working on tasks can be highly beneficial. Studies have shown that when listening to music, the brain releases dopamine, which goes to the prefrontal cortex. That release of dopamine helps the brain work harder, focus on tasks and increase productivity.

Senior Dylan Handley shared how listening to music has helped him get his work done.

“It can get a little mundane and monotonous when you’re just doing the same type of math problem over and over again,” Handley said. “Having music can spice things up.”

Playing music can also have benefits for one’s mental health.

Senior Nic Weaver commented on how music has helped his mental health.

“I find music as a getaway if there’s something stressful happening in my life, like a test,” Weaver said. “It kinda goes away when I play music because I’m focused on that and I enjoy it.”

One study done by Dr. Debra Shipman at the National Institute of Health shows that playing a musical instrument can lead to “improved self-esteem, greater independence and fewer feelings of isolation.” 

“It’s been a very good outlet for me,” Handley said. “I can just put all of my emotions into what I’m doing.”

Music has also been used as a therapeutic tool for decades, with the earliest known use of music therapy in 1789, and recommendations of it by the famed Greek philosopher Aristotle.

Research done by the American Music Therapy Association has shown that using music as a tool in therapy has many benefits, such as being able to manage stress better and overall promote wellness within the mind.

Sophomore Carrington Palmeri also shared how using music as a therapeutic tool has benefitted their mental health.

“Listening to music makes me happier. If I’m sad, I listen to sad songs – most of the time it’s happy songs, but it makes me feel better about myself,” Palmeri said. 

Another study by Dr. Lavinia Rebecchini, also at the National Institute of Health, discovered that listening to music can also provide a boost to your immune system.

When the body is under stress, it can reduce the number of immune cells needed to defend itself, leading to illness. However, when the body is listening to music, it relaxes, leading to the ability to produce more vital immune cells.

Even though there are countless benefits to listening to music, there are also downsides.

Listening to slow, calming music can help the brain relax when struggling to fall asleep, but listening to exciting, fast-tempo music can often excite the brain, causing the brain to tell itself that it needs to be aware and awake. Staying up late can lead to sleep deprivation, higher blood pressure, and an overall worse quality of life.

Without the proper precautions, music can limit cognitive functions and everyday tasks. 

Music comes with both benefits and drawbacks. However, students at De Soto have been able to find the benefits of listening to music.