Harmonizing Healing: Exploring the Impact of Sound on Mental Health

World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10

Can sound help your mental state?

We’ve seen the headlines before. For some of us, the death wasn’t a headline, but someone we knew and loved. Maybe you’ve considered it yourself. If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, immediate help is available at 988.

Regardless of your experience with suicide or suicidal ideation, there are therapies using sound that can be effective at treating people with conditions that can lead to death by suicide that can be combined with your current treatment plan. You might have noticed that some noises (like a loud fan, an older air conditioner, or metal music), might put you on edge and others (like classical music, a soft bird song, your lover whisper saying ‘I love you’) might soothe you, but do you understand why?

Sound waves traveling in the air are a type of mechanical wave. These signals are converted into the electrical signals our brain uses through a process called auditory transduction. The cells of the inner ear respond mechanically to the passage of sound waves, and this mechanical response is converted into an electrical signal that will be processed in the brain’s auditory cortex. Other areas of the brain may also be activated by sound stimuli. Although brain waves and sound waves are distinct phenomena, our brain’s activity is still significantly influenced by sound.

The full impact of sound waves on brain waves is still being explored, but sound is implemented in several types of therapy in the present day. One of them is called alpha-theta training which is a type of neurofeedback therapy. This therapy often uses sound to help guide people into a hypnotic-like state. During this time, their brain waves are monitored for the presence of theta waves. While in a high-theta wave state, participants can work on overcoming negative thoughts and associations. Alpha-theta training has been considered to treat disorders like anxiety, depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder without the use of medication. Of course, there is no shame in needing medication and as always, ask your doctor before pursuing alternative therapies.

As you can see, sound waves are not just everywhere but can profoundly improve our lives and maybe even save some. For more information on how you can get involved in suicide prevention, see their website: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-suicide-prevention-day.