A study found that people with social anxiety reduced their stress by exposing themselves to the sweat of others. If confirmed, this discovery will provide new avenues for treating these patients.
Body odor helps reduce this psychological disturbance. A study conducted by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm (Sweden) revealed that people with social anxiety perceived their stress reduced by exposing themselves to the sweat of others.
This scientific work, as eccentric as it may sound, must be taken seriously because it is currently being presented at the European Congress of Psychiatry, which takes place in Paris from Saturday 25th to Tuesday 28th March.
The study involved taking sweat samples from volunteers before exposing patients treated for social anxiety to the chemical cues extracted from these samples. The results demonstrated the benefits of a combination of mindfulness therapy, which is traditionally used to treat this mental disorder, and exposure to the sweat of others.
Convincing results not yet confirmed
In this study, 48 women with social anxiety were divided into three groups of 16. The latter underwent a two-day wakefulness treatment. In parallel, each group was exposed to different degrees of odor samples.
commented the principal investigator of the Elisa Vigna study, who relayed his comments via Watchman.
Patients who underwent a mindfulness therapy session and were exposed to human body odor saw their anxiety score decrease by approximately 39%. In the treatment-only group, the reduction in anxiety scores was 17% after one treatment session.
It is therefore possible that human chemical signals present in sweat influence response to treatment. The simple fact of being exposed to someone else’s presence may have this effect, but we have to confirm it,” analyzed Elisa Vigna.
There is no effect of emotional state in the study
In this study, the samples were taken from people who watched movie clips that were chosen to elicit specific emotional states, such as fear or happiness. For this purpose, different types of videos were shown to guinea pigs in order to retrieve diverse samples of the emotional state spectrum.
“We were a little surprised to find that the emotional state of the person producing the sweat did not differ in treatment outcomes: the sweat produced by a happy person had the same effect as that produced by a person who was frightened by a video clip,” said the study’s lead researcher.
UK public health system (NHSdescribed social anxiety as a prolonged and overwhelming fear of social situations. To treat this disorder, medicine currently only uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with a therapist and antidepressants.
Scientific research conducted a few years ago indicated that approximately 12.1% of adults in the United States have suffered or will suffer from social anxiety disorder during their lifetime.
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