Alfa Ramirez is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Digital Cinema Arts at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, USA.
She was assigned a class project in her Psychological Testing course and she decided to focus her project on ASMR.
After obtaining IRB approval and a faculty research supervisor, she forged ahead and has already finished collecting and analyzing her data.
There is a common frustration for patients using antidepressants for the first time.
The antidepressants either take weeks to be effective or they may never be effective.
The major reason for this has been a long standing mystery among clinicians.
But a recent research finding may have uncovered a clear and logical cause of this problem.
Michelle Woodall is a Counselor and Psychotherapist in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
She has her B.Sc. in Mathematics and Economics with a Certificate of Counseling from the University of Birmingham, along with a Diploma in Person Centred Counseling from the University of Warwick.
Michelle’s areas of focus include depression and/or anxiety in the Highly Sensitive Person.
She recently wrote a series of articles about the Highly Sensitive Person which included ASMR. I reached out to Michelle to learn more about the term Highly Sensitive Person and how it may relate to ASMR.
It could still be a long time until ASMR is a clinician-recommended therapy for disorders like insomnia, anxiety, or depression.
How long? Hard to say but a recent publication about the therapeutic use of yoga gives a valuable perspective to this timeline for ASMR.
One of the key aspects of ASMR is that it is a very relaxing state which seems to de-stress the mind and body.
Exercise is basically the opposite. It is a high energy state of physical exertion and mental alertness which stresses the mind and body.
Combining a stress state and a relaxation state to alleviate depression may seem a bit counterintuitive, but a study recently published in Translational Psychiatry (a Nature journal) has some interesting results.
Two reasons some people watch lots of ASMR videos is to help them with sleep problems and/or depression.
And although this may be helpful to some who have these problems, the cause of their sleep problems and depression may still need to be diagnosed so the underlying disorder can be best treated.
Recent research in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine demonstrated that sleep problems and depression are both common symptoms in people with sleep apnea.
So what is sleep apnea?
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.
The workplace can be a stressful environment for most professions. Work-related stress can result in poor performance, job dissatisfaction, and missed workdays.
One field that struggles constantly with job-related stress is health care, especially for those who work in surgical Intensive Care Units (ICU).
The word “intensive” is practically a synonym for the word “stress”.
Here is a crazy experiment: give these ICU workers one hour off in the middle of their workday to meditate, perform yoga, enjoy relaxing music, and watch soothing ASMR videos – then see if that helps their stress.
Well, one team of researchers almost did that exact experiment and just published the results in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Relaxing music and ASMR triggers have their similarities and their differences.
Similarities include: both can induce relaxation, both have strong auditory component, and both can induce a type of chills or tingles.
Differences include: music is almost all auditory (vibrations can be another sensory input method), the type of chills induced are slightly different, and music may have a stronger emotional component.
And then there is the biggest difference of them all.
It has been widely reported that many individuals find ASMR helpful to reducing their anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
If there was one neurotransmitter that was known to reduce all three of these disorders then it might be appropriate to theorize the involvement of that neurotransmitter in ASMR.
Well, the neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) may be a terrific candidate.
GABA is a neurotransmitter that is widely released throughout the brain. It is well understood to have an inhibitory effect on most neurons. Another way to view this is that GABA tends to calm, comfort, and soothe other neurons.
Is GABA involved in treating anxiety disorders? Yes. Drugs like Xanax and Valium are benzodiazepines which are anti-anxiety medications. These kind of drugs reduce anxiety by enhancing the effect of the patient’s natural amounts of GABA.
Is GABA involved in treating sleep disorders? Yes. Benzodiazepines are also widely used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders.
So are benzodiazepines widely used for depression? No. The most common type of medication used to treat depression are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs increase the amount of the patient’s natural amount of serotonin.
So GABA has not been viewed strongly as being involved in the therapeutic role of SSRIs for depression.
But a recent research publication in the journal Science challenges that view.