Research: Binaural beats for depression and anxiety

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” -William Congreve

A binaural beat is an auditory illusion perceived when two different pure-tone sine waves, both with frequencies lower than 1500 Hz, with less than a 40 Hz difference between them, are presented to a listener dichotically (one through each ear). Recent studies and anecdotal reports suggest that binaural auditory beats can affect mood, increase focus and relieve anxiety.

The effects caused by binaural beats have been under debate and doubt. While some consider the beat to be addictive, others praise its useful effects in treating depression and anxiety.

Binaural beats were discovered nearly 150 years ago by Prussian research scientist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove in 1839. Ideally, binaural beats are created when “two very similar, yet slightly different, audio tones are listened to using stereo headphones.” Several studies have suggested that binaural beats can induce a drug-like effect, when the tones heard by each ear have a frequency range of less than 1,000 Hertz (Hz) for a person with normal hearing.

Binaural beats change the patterns of the brain wave and alter the state of consciousness. When hearing binaural beats, the brain attempts to evaluate the slight differences in both the tones, which further reputedly causes a drug-like effect. However, amidst the controversy of the possible addictive nature of the beats, studies have proved its medicinal use in treating mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Binaural beats in treating mental disorder

In case of treating mental disorders such as depression or anxiety, binaural beats are considered as ordinary music that is played to soothe the senses and promote calmness. As soothing music helps in improving mood, binaural beats work to change the brain wave pattern in a manner that alters the mood from negative to positive. However, in doing so, it is important to check on the frequency of induced waves as a mismatch could lead to the reverse effect.

Ideally, in order to use binaural beats as a remedy to depression, it is important to set its frequency between 4-7 Hz, which matches the frequency of theta waves of brain waves that correlate to a very relaxed and meditative state. Unless the beats are used to induce deep sleep , the frequency should be set at less than 4 Hz.

According to a study conducted in Canada, listening to binaural beats five times a week for a total of four weeks can significantly reduce one’s level of anxiety. Meanwhile, the study conducted at the Monroe Institute revealed similar results stating that binaural beats are effective in improving the level of focus, creativity, sleep induction and memory.

Other medicinal use of binaural beats

Apart from treating common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, binaural beats have also been studied to treat and deliver effective results in case of complex mental illnesses. Even though binaural beats were discovered by Professor Dave, it remained unnoticed until researcher, Gerald Ouster rediscovered them and revealed them to be useful in helping animals and humans locating sounds. Later, he went ahead in establishing the beats as an effective tool for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease, as people suffering from the disease cannot perceive the beats.

Notably, he also discovered that beats are perceived more by women than men, especially during menstruation. This further suggested the involvement of estrogen in helping them perceiving the music.

Road to recovery

Despite the debate surrounding the use of binaural beats for treating mental disorders, many therapists recommend the beat. While beats can help in gaining some relief from depressive symptoms, patients suffering from depression and anxiety should necessarily seek medical help for proper cure and treatment.

If you or your loved one is experiencing unusual bouts of anxiety, you should seek medical help from a certified medical practitioner. You can connect with the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California for details on anxiety disorders treatment centers in California. You may call our 24/7 helpline number 855-972-9459 or chat online with our certified representatives to learn about mental health treatment centers in California and find the best treatment for your condition.

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