Rhys Baker is a first year journalism student at the University of Sussex, as well as a freelance writer and co-founder of the Hip-Hop brand theSTASHBOX.
He is also one of the millions of individuals in the world who struggles with major depressive disorder.
Rhys has experienced his depression since adolescence. He has tried several types of traditional and non-traditional therapies – but he was unable to achieve appropriate relief of his sadness.
Then he stumbled across ASMR by participating in a research study a few months ago. He has written an article about how he has felt more relief for his depression via ASMR than from other methods.
His story is not scientific evidence of the therapeutic value of ASMR. His story is an anecdote, one expressed often on the internet, of how he feels ASMR helps him. A thousand anecdotes does not create a fact, but a thousand anecdotes should catch the attention of researchers.
I share his story because it is one of many that should help to motivate researchers to pursue scientific investigations into the potential value of ASMR for health disorders.
I interviewed Rhys and he shared the history of his depression, how he learned about ASMR, what he would say to a room full of researchers, and more.
Below are my questions in bold, his replies in italics, and a link to the story he wrote about his depression and his discovery of ASMR.
When did you first begin feeling depressive symptoms and when were you diagnosed by a clinician?
Rhys, “At the age of 14 I started having depressive symptoms. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 16, with bipolar disorder.”
What treatments have you utilized for your depression?
Rhys, “I’ve tried medicines such as citalopram and lamotrigine. As well as therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy.”
How did you first learn about ASMR?
Rhys, “Only a few months ago when a friend posted a study he was doing at the University of Sheffield about brain tingles. I completed the survey they were conducting and got the tingles straight away. I had always experienced ASMR since I was very young, I just didn’t realise it had a name or that other people experience it too or that I could be triggered by external factors such as whispering.”
When and how did you first discover that ASMR was helpful to your depression?
Rhys, “Straight after pretty much. I realized that brain tingles left me feeling calm and content. I then starting utilising it for when I was feeling bad or for sleep hygiene.”
How would you describe your ASMR triggers and sensations?
Rhys, “My main trigger is inaudible whispering or mouth sounds. However they range from watching people complete tasks to the sound of tapping.
The sensation feels like a drug to be honest. Very pleasurable and quite overpowering to the rest of the body. I would describe it as an oozing or tingles that come from the back of the head and flow down the shoulders and back eventually to the stomach.”
Do you have a favourite ASMR artist or ASMR video?
Rhys, “My favourite ASMR artist is MassageASMR. My favourite video of his would have to be this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ze1EmynWvcM I have no idea why though. I really like the ‘Tuka Tuka’ noise, for some reason it makes me max out my tingle experience.”
What motivated you to write the article?
Rhys, “I wanted to write the article for two reasons, firstly because I am an aspiring journalist and wanted to get an article published but secondly because I felt like it was an interesting topic which has been explored but not enough. I wanted to share my story, which was very new to me, maybe in the hope that someone would reply or connect.”
What kind of reactions have you received to your article?
Rhys, “I wasn’t expecting any reaction at all but I’ve been contacted by a lot of ASMR groups – both research and non-research. My family and friends seemed to find in fascinating and some discovered they have ASMR themselves. I’m also going to take part in a documentary which should be fun!”
If you could address a room full of researchers whom were considering doing research about ASMR what would you say to them?
Rhys, “Firstly I would say that ASMR is not at all sexual in any way. Secondly I would say it is definitely a real thing. I would focus on how we can harness this feeling to use as a form of treatment. More research is definitely needed in this field as I strongly believe these childlike tingles could cure a lot of people of anxiety and depression.”
What advice or encouragement would you give to others whom are dealing with depression?
Rhys, “Everyone is different. I used to hate people giving me advice (even if they have suffered themselves). One thing I would say that has worked well for me is keeping busy. I am my most happiest and in control when I’m being productive and busy. So even when you are feeling horrible always try to pursue hobbies and interests not matter how bad you are feeling.”
Note from Dr. Richard: If you have depression, or think you may have depression, please talk to your doctor about how you feel. Click HERE to learn more about depression, the importance of seeking professional help, and you can even take a quiz to see if you might be depressed.
Click HERE to read Rhys’s story about his battle with depression.
Click HERE to learn more about Rhys.
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This post brought to you by ASMR University. A site with the mission of increasing the awareness, understanding, and research of the Art and Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.
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