Performance Anxiety and other Mental Disorders

Read more about current research projects in the Berlin Center for Musicians Medicine on performance anxiety.

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Physical Activity for Musicians with Stage Anxiety

Performance anxiety is a frequent music-specific anxiety disorder, which is associated with a considerable psychosocial burden and impairment of the affected persons. In the medium to long term, the fear of the performance can often be well treated by psychotherapy; however, fast-acting, non-pharmacological treatment options are currently unavailable. However, scientific studies have shown that (special forms) of physical activity in other anxiety disorders already lead in the short term to a significant reduction in the disease-specific symptoms as well as biological correlates of an increased stress response (such as the stress hormone cortisol).

Against this background, we investigate in this study the effect of a six-day exercise program on the symptoms of onset anxiety as well as on psychological and biological parameters associated with or favoring an (increased) stress experience.

In a first examination, the diagnosis of a fear of the performance is ascertained, the severity of which is determined and stress-related psychological factors as well as the cortisol level determined. This is followed by a sports medicine examination to ensure the physical fitness of the participants and to determine the optimal individual training area. Afterwards, the participants will complete a standardized training of 20 minutes in a total of six times over a period of 12 days. Three or ten days after the end of the training period, a "performance exposure" will be held, in which the participants will each have a standardized stage performance in their respective musical discipline. In order to be able to determine the effects of the training on the fear of the performance and the stress experience, at different times after completion of the exercise program or before, during and after the appearance exposures, the severity of the occurrence anxiety and the stress-associated variables is examined again.

In this context, we are looking for professional musicians and music students from the age of 18, the
- suffer from an agoraphobia or suspicion of a fear of performing
- are not currently undergoing psychotherapeutic treatment

For further information on study participation please contact the study coordinator Ms. Jennifer Mumm.

Study director: Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Schmidt, Dr. med. Jens Plag
Study coordination: Dr. med. Isabel Fernholz, Psychological Psychotherapist Jennifer Mumm, M.Sc.

The study is financially supported by funds from the Friede Springer Foundation.

Performance Anxiety and Musculoskeletal Disorders in Music Medicine: Systematic Review of Frequencies, Risk Factors and Clinical Treatment Effects

As part of a systematic review, the previously published literature on frequencies and risk factors of musculoskeletal diseases and onset of anxiety among professional musicians, as well as the effects of the treatment and prevention methods used for this purpose, were summarised and critically evaluated with regard to the available evidence.
An electronic search by search algorithms in the databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycArticles, PsycInfo and ERIC and additional hand searches was performed. Case reports, case-control studies, cohort studies, cross-sectional studies and intervention studies were included in the review and evaluated in terms of their study methodology.

Project management
: Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. Anne Berghöfer
Project realisation: Katharina Noeres
Project collaboration: Dr. med. Dipl.-Mus. Isabel Fernholz, Dr. med. Gabriele Rotter, Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Schmidt