Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Listening to Birds and Birdsong Reduce Anxiety and Paranoia, Study Reveals

Even individuals suffering from depression can benefit from watching or listening to birds. A study conducted by experts at King’s College London discovered that viewing or listening to birds can increase our mental well-being. They claim that the effects can be evident even in people diagnosed with depression.

The discovery is supported by information gathered from the Urban Mind smartphone app, created by King’s College London, the arts charity Nomad Projects, and landscape architects J&L Gibbons. Between April 2018 and October 2021, nearly 1,300 volunteers from the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom downloaded the app.

Every day, the app delivered three messages asking the participants if they could see or hear birds nearby, followed by a short questionnaire designed to assess their mental health.

According to the researchers, the volunteers reported a boost in mental wellness whenever they could observe birds or hear birdsong.

“There is growing evidence on the mental health benefits of being around nature, and we intuitively think that the presence of birdsong and birds would help lift our mood,” said Lead Researcher Ryan Hammoud of King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience.

“However, there is little research that has actually investigated the impact of birds on mental health in real-time and in a real environment. We hope this evidence can demonstrate the importance of protecting and providing environments to encourage birds, not only for biodiversity but for our mental health,” Hammoud added.

The app also gathered data on mental health diagnoses, and researchers discovered that the mood-lifting effect persisted even in volunteers with depression. The impact continued even after the researchers accounted for any potential psychological advantages of being in nature.

“The term ecosystem services are often used to describe the benefits of certain aspects of the natural environment on our physical and mental health,” said co-researcher Professor Andrea Mechelli of IoPPN, King’s College London.

“However, it can be difficult to prove these benefits scientifically. Our study provides evidence for creating and supporting biodiverse spaces that harbor birdlife since this is strongly linked to our mental health. In addition, the findings support the implementation of measures to increase opportunities for people to come across birdlife, particularly for those living with mental health conditions such as depression,” Mechelli explained.