Science Says Listening to Music Can Decrease Anxiety
If you typically play music throughout the day, know that you're doing more than simply having fun listening to your favorite tunes. As it turns out, you might also be improving your overall mental health. According to new research published in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at Ryerson University discovered that health treatments that include music and auditory beat stimulation (the combination of tones in one ear or both ears that are meant to activate different brain activity) can help decrease anxiety in some patients.
The research studied 163 patients who took anti-anxiety medications in their at-home treatments. These tests featured music, ABS, both, or "pink noise," which is similar to white background noise. With the help of artificial intelligence, each person received a selection of music based on their mood and musical preferences. The study volunteers used an app downloaded to their smartphone for practice, closed their eyes, and listened to the tunes for 24 minutes. Those with moderate anxiety before the session had reduced physical symptoms after listening to music and ABS. The participants who only listened to music had the biggest decreases in anxiety in contrast to those who listened to pink noise.
Cognitive anxiety (stemming from thoughts and emotions) lessened most in participants who listened to music and ABS. The music-only group had even more decreases in high anxiety than with the ABS group. "With the pandemic and remote work, there has been a remarkable uptick in the use of digital health tools to support mental health. The results of this clinical trial indicate great promise for the use of digital health tools, such as LUCID's digital music therapy, in the management of anxiety and other mental health conditions," the team shared in a media release.
"The findings from this research are exciting as they indicate that personalized music shows great promise in effectively reducing anxiety in specific segments of the population that suffer from anxiety," the researchers added. "Hopefully, with additional research, we can help build a solid evidence base which further supports the use of personalized music as an additional tool in the clinician's toolbox that can be used to help reduce anxiety in the patient population."