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Sniffing body odour linked to low social anxiety: study

social anxiety

Social anxiety is a chronic mental health condition that triggers irrational worry, fear, self-consciousness, embarrassment, and other symptoms of anxiety upon interacting with other people. A new study in Sweden has found that smelling the body odour of other people can reduce this problem.

Researchers at Karolinska Institute have been experimenting with armpit sweat and human chemosignals. They found that exposure to stink lowers social anxiety by 40%. However, this has to be paired with mindfulness therapy, reported BBC.

Lead researcher Elisa Vigna said: "Sweat produced while someone was happy had the same effect as someone who had been scared by a movie clip. So there may be something about human chemo-signals in sweat generally which affects the response to treatment."

"It may be that simply being exposed to the presence of someone else has this effect, but we need to confirm this. In fact, that is what we are testing now in a follow-up study with a similar design, but where we are also including sweat from individuals watching emotionally neutral documentaries," she added.

Scientists have been exploring the idea based on how the smell of food or smoke helps humans detect danger. People can also sense their emotional state with the same cognitive tools. It is also proven that anxiety can create a sensitivity to smells and puts you in touch with your senses. People with anxiety are said to be more receptive to scents than others.

For the study, researchers picked 48 women with social anxiety and asked them to sniff armpit sweat samples. One group was given genuine body odour and the other group was given clean air. They were also undergoing conventional therapy. The first group appeared to do better with the therapy.

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TAGS:social anxietysocial anxiety tipssocial anxiety treatment
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