Swedish scientists are up to something rather strange — something that could, however, potentially be helpful for at least 15 million people in the US alone (based on Mental Health America); they’re currently studying a new possible treatment for social anxiety — and they think that smelling someone’s armpit can help alleviate the ailment!

Sniffing Sweat as a Form of Relief

Elisa Vigna and her team conducted research regarding social anxiety — and how sniffing stinky sweat lessened the symptoms of the mental health condition; the researchers also presented the said preliminary study at the 31st European Congress of Psychiatry last week in Paris. 

Volunteers of the research were subjected to “mindfulness therapy” and they were given samples of underarm perspiration. Interestingly, the volunteers responded well to the scent of body odor. The reason for this — according to Elisa Vigna of Karolinska Institute — is because “Our state of mind causes us to produce molecules (or chemo-signals) in sweat which communicate our emotional state and produce corresponding responses in the receivers. The results of our preliminary study show that combining these chemo-signals with mindfulness therapy seem to produce better results in treating social anxiety than can be achieved by mindfulness therapy alone.”

The researchers can’t definitively conclude that sniffing sweaty armpits can be the miracle cure for the condition — but they plan on conducting more studies soon. However, Elisa Vigna adds, “We found that individuals who undertook one treatment session of mindfulness therapy together with being exposed to human body odors showed about 39% reduction in anxiety scores. For comparison, in the group receiving only mindfulness (i.e., the control group) we saw a 17% reduction in anxiety scores after one treatment session.” Sometime in the future, the Swedish team plans on studying how their volunteers will react to body odor in various scenarios.

Coping With Social Anxiety if There’s No One Sweaty Around

COVID and lockdowns seem to have triggered social anxiety in people. Additionally, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, more people live with the condition now because of COVID — as their daily routines were deeply impacted by the pandemic. Therefore, social anxiety is very much a real health condition — and it’s not just a person simply being too shy to socialize. Furthermore, it’s recognized as a form of anxiety disorder — but it can be difficult to know if a person has one unless a medical expert diagnoses them with the medical condition.

Once a doctor diagnoses a person Social Anxiety Disorder, the patient may undergo Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This form of treatment can help patients cope with their anxiety. However, the specifics and techniques that a doctor may use will vary — as every patient’s case is unique. Thus, alleviating social anxiety symptoms depends on the methods that their therapist recommended to them. All in all, the best way to find out how to cope with social anxiety is by asking their doctor how.

All Things Considered…

Social anxiety stinks! Unfortunately, it’s a medical condition that many have — but experts say that sniffing someone’s smelly armpits can help alleviate social anxiety symptoms. If your nose is prepared to take a whiff of someone’s body odor, there seems to be no harm in doing that! But underarm sweat isn’t a miracle cure for social anxiety. The best treatment is still what your therapist recommends for you.

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