J&K hospital, musicologist study if music helps treat mental disorders
Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences ( medical college and hospital, SKIMS-MC) and a musicologist from Jammu and Kashmir’s Institute of Mathematical Science are collaborating to learn whether mental disorders can be diagnosed and treated using sound and Indian classical music.
The research will study the effect of acoustics, sound and music on mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. Principal investigator of the project, Shahzad Aasim, a musicologist, said they will be testing the neuro-acoustic mechanism. “Kashmir is a hotspot for mental disorders owing to conflict and other issues. The aim of this research is to accurately diagnose and treat illnesses such as anxiety, depression, autism and other mental disorder using specific and unspecific sound therapies,” he says.
“So far, doctors have been diagnosing these disorders using symptoms or case histories. They then make assumptions based on a certain scaling,” said Aasim, who is also the research head at Jammu and Kashmir’s Institute of Mathematical Science (JK-IMS) in the higher education department.
SKIMS head of the psychiatry professor Abdul Wahid said the research was yet to begin and they have just signed a memorandum of understanding with JKIMS. “We are yet to formulate a protocol. We are trying to learn the effect of acoustics on treatment of patients and see if we can use it to treat psychiatric disorders,” he said.
“I have been working on this for 12 years,” says Aasim, who has written research papers on music, including the quantum mechanism of music in theory and practice and secret of music.
The research will be carried on patients of SKIMS-MC and will be done after obtaining informed consent of the patients or their caretakers. The first phase will take six months.
“We will be using resonance factor. Human organs like the heart and brain have their vibration frequencies. We will be introducing low frequency sound loops to patients to reach resonance points. Then we will be comparing it with normal people. It is like organ mapping using sound,” Aasim said.
Aasim said that they will be using sound notations from Indian classical music based on the frequency spectrum. “We will also be quantifying mood swings,” he said.
Dr Nizamuddin, assistant professor at the department of psychiatry, said the project aims to use music and sound therapy to assess symptoms of the patients. “There will be piloting and then research will start. It is a very innovative idea and the outcome is uncertain. Our side will be assessing whether symptom-wise there is improvement in the patient or not,” he said, adding that he was not sure if the therapy can help diagnose patients .
Researchers have found that a large population in Kashmir suffers from mental disorders. Nearly 1.8 million or 45% of the total adult population in the Valley show symptoms of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a research by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) concluded in 2016. It said, on an average, an adult living in the Valley has witnessed or experienced 7.7 traumatic events during their lifetime. While 93% of people experienced conflict-related trauma, 94% experienced trauma due to natural disasters.