'Exciting' new findings on how music can help treat anxiety

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  • A study looked at the role of music in the treatment of anxiety.
  • The researchers also looked at other sounds as potential anxiety treatments.
  • A combination of music and auditory beat stimulation worked best in reducing anxiety.

A new study has found that sound-based treatments effectively reduce somatic and cognitive state anxiety in people with moderate anxiety.

The study published in PLOS ONE examined the anxiety-reducing potential of calm music combined with auditory beat stimulation (ABS).

The researchers enrolled 163 people taking anti-anxiety medications in at-home treatment sessions involving music and other sounds. The participants were divided into four groups:

The members of the first group were exposed to a combination of music and ABS; the second to ABS only; the third group to pink noise (constant sound in the background); and the fourth group to music only.

The study authors took note of pre-and post-intervention somatic and cognitive state anxiety and trait anxiety, personality characteristics, and musical preferences.

Personalised music shows great promise

The study found that music and ABS are effective treatments for people who suffer from anxiety and are on anti-anxiety medication. The findings also show that the reductions in cognitive state anxiety were more significant in the combined condition than in the music-only, ABS-only, and pink noise conditions. 

In the music-only group, people with high trait anxiety, who are more likely to feel fear or worries, had significantly higher anxiety reductions than in the ABS-only group.

"The findings from this research are exciting as they indicate that personalised music shows great promise in effectively reducing anxiety in specific segments of the population that suffer from anxiety.

"Hopefully, with additional research, we can help build a solid evidence base which further supports the use of personalised music as an additional tool in the clinician's toolbox that can be used to help reduce anxiety in the patient population," the study authors said in a press statement

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