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"I'm Singin in The Rain, Just Singin in the Rain, What a Wonderful Feelin, I'm Happy Again..."

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

"I'm Singin In The Rain..."Gene Kelley sang that bouncy song in the great American classic movie from 1950, "An American In Paris." Now, there is evidence that singing does create a wonderful feeling and can make you "happy again."

The health website, "Medical News Today," posted an article about the latest British research into the beneficial effects of singing. The article can be found at:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176316.php

According to the studies, singing in a group helps to reduce stress and depression, improve memory and reduce anxiety. Several reasons have been advanced for the beneficial effects of group singing.

1. Memorizing the words to songs improves brain function, including the ability to store and retrieve memory.

2. The exercises associated with group singing improve deep breathing and that has the added benefit of adding to relaxation and stress reduction.

3. Performing in front of an audience and as part of a group inspires self confidence and self esteem.

4. Group interaction in a singing group ends social isolation and fosters relationships of all kinds.

5. Group participation is fun and allows people to get away from daily stresses and worries.

In other words, singing is beginning to gain the same status as exercise and healthy eating as another way to reduce all types of emotional problems.

What is of particularly interesting is that group singing is helpful for those with Alzheimer's Dementia. The focus on exercising the memory system and engaging in social interaction has been found to bring Alzheimer's patients out of some of the worst withdrawal and silence. Music seems to stimulate deeply stored memories and that encourages these people to sing along.

It is not the isolated singing in the shower that most of us do that is being referred to in this research. Rather, it is joining a singing group and engaging in the voice training and breathing exercises while meeting other people that encourages the benefits of this activity.

I can't think of a better way to reduce depression than to sing. It is akin to having a dog. After all, it gets you out of the house, forces you to meet people and interact, and allows you to have fun. What could be better. And, you do not have to be an opera star or be gifted in anyway. Everyone is accepted without reservations.

So, my prescription for all us is to "Sing for we having nothing to lose but our stress and depression."

Your comments and questions are welcome.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD