Music therapy for working with anxiety. By Jenny Holt

Music Therapy: A Powerful, Risk-Free Way of Tackling Anxiety in Children.

Hans Christian Andersen once said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” This not only rings true for avid music fans, but, studies show, also when it comes to tackling anxiety in children. As many as 1 in 6 young people are affected by an anxiety condition at some point in their lives, with anxiety disorders in children taking an average of 10 years to diagnose. That is a worryingly long time. More ominously, once a young person is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, he or she is often prescribed antidepressants, with the numbers of young people on antidepressants increasingly on the rise.
A child often feels unable to speak about their anxiety, because they don’t have the words, or are afraid of being dismissed. Music therapy offers an unintimidating environment in which a child can tackle their anxiety very effectively in a less conscious, risk-free way, expressing themselves creatively and feeling more confident in themselves as a result.

Music therapy for panic attacks and pain management.

Unresolved anxiety can lead to panic attacks, which are frightening for the sufferer and may recur frequently. Music therapy has been shown to be effective at reducing panic attacks, together with the anxiety that causes or accompanies them. Panic attacks can be partly caused by a high blood pressure and heart rate. Music can lower both these things, consequently bringing a sense of relative calm and relaxation in the person. Music can also affect your hormones and nervous system – significantly, the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ response to stress. By taking your focus away from a stressful event or circumstance, music inhibits the stress response and can stimulate endorphins from the brain, making you feel more positive and at ease.

Panic attacks and/or extreme anxiety can be triggered by a particular place or event and, in the case of children in particular, hospitals can often cause a great deal of anxiety. Recent studies have shown the positive effect that passive and active music therapy can have on children in hospital who are in pain or feeling anxious about an imminent operation. As well as providing sensory stimulation to help take a child’s mind off anxiety or pain, music can help children visualise the anxiety or pain, enabling them to picture it shrinking and thus feel more positive.

Further Details on Music Therapy

For more information about music therapy and how to access it, visit the British Association For Music Therapy website.

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