A well-known old adage states that music softens morals. The benefits of music have also been recognized for thirty years by the scientific world. In this unprecedented time of global epidemic, could music play a role in reducing anxiety? This is what Quebec scientists sought to find out by studying the benefits of music.
The benefits of music on body and soul
Any baby in the grip of grief has already experienced the soothing and comforting benefits of a sweet melody sung by his mother. That is to say that the music conceals in it a certain magic.
Observed for centuries, this power of music has been recognized for thirty years by the scientific world. It is now confirmed by solid scientific data. Two major Dutch meta-analyses published in the Health Psychology Review revealed the physiological and psychological effects of music on stress. And the results on the body and the mind, considered significant, are not negligible: the heart rate and blood pressure decrease, the level of the stress hormone (cortisol) in saliva drops, the feeling of anxiety dissipate etc.
Therefore, it seems legitimate to ask whether in this unprecedented period of global epidemic, music could play a role in reducing anxiety. ? This is what Quebec scientists sought to find out through a study on the listening habits of the population.
What musical habits during a pandemic?
It was Marie-Andrée Richard, a doctoral student in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Montreal in Quebec, who took the initiative for such a study: “The idea came to me in the first days of the crisis. I saw how important music was in our lives. We have already observed the benefits of music on resilience (…) On the other hand, musical habits and their effects in times of health crisis have not been explored. It is something new, unknown. »
The scientist therefore set out to dissect the “pandemic soundtrack” of 5,000 participants around the world. What type of music is listened to according to gender, age or place of residence? In what context ? The objective of this study was to establish a composite portrait of the benefits of listening to music on emotions and stress.
Music as comfort
The first data from this analysis seem to indicate that in times of crisis, music could play a comforting role. If the authors of this study do not question the merits of medication in the event of anxiety disorders, they nevertheless believe that music could be an interesting tool. Knowing that its benefits vary from one individual to another.
For Isabelle Peretz, co-director of the study and founder of the International Brain, Music and Sound Research Laboratory (BRAMS): “We use music as a source of self-medication. If you need comfort, you will listen to relaxing music. If you need energy, you will listen to stimulating music. »
A report from the Spotify platform has also deciphered music listening trends in Canada and around the world. If the month of April 2020, marked by confinement, gave pride of place to sadder and melancholic songs, the number of listenings to songs from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s literally jumped during the crisis. This phenomenon could be explained by the fact that familiar and appreciated music provides a feeling of security which amplifies positive emotions and accelerates the production of dopamine (hormone of happiness).
To know ! According to some specialists, melancholic music would provide a feeling of calm thanks to prolactin, a hormone present in large quantities in tears.
For Nathalie Gosselin, neuropsychologist and co-director of the study: “During COVID-19, there are ups and downs. And music can act as a balm.”
So when is music therapy with song prescriptions?
Déborah L., Doctor of Pharmacy