Media Coverage

Sour Candy for Anxiety Isn't Just a TikTok Trend, Experts Explain How It Really Works

April 25, 2023
In this article, Dr. Toya Roberson-Moore shares insight about a new TikTok trend and explains how sour candy can help relieve anxiety. The trend claims consuming sour candy can help pause an anxiety or panic attack by distracting the brain due to the intense taste. Dr. Roberson-Moore shares how the brain reacts and how this can actually help as a short-term distraction, but notes, "Shifting your attention to one of the five senses is most effective when coupled with learning and practicing skills to identify when danger is not real and anxiety is not needed."

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Could the antidote for anxiety attacks lie in something as simple as sour candy? According to TikTokers and other online sources, the answer is yes—and, intriguingly, many mental health experts agree.

The theory behind the online-famous trend goes that, when a panic attack or bout of anxiety hits, sucking on tart candies distracts the brain from negative emotions, zeroing attention in on the sour, tingling sensation in the mouth. TikTok videos galore extol the virtues of keeping sour candies on hand for when a bout of anxiety hits, such as on an airplane or prior to public speaking. Searches for “sour candy for anxiety” currently have 22.5 million views on the platform.

But does the TikTok trend hold up scientifically? Here’s what experts have to say about the effectiveness of popping a Warhead or Jolly Rancher for panic, and whether it’s a sustainable technique.

Just like the age-old sensory zap of snapping a rubber band on the wrist to deter anxiety, chewing sour candies is a distraction technique. It shifts the brain’s attention from sensations of fear, anxiety, and overwhelm to the vivid, assertive flavor in the mouth.

“Panic ensues when our amygdala triggers the flight or fight response. One way to dampen our amygdala’s response and mitigate panic is by turning our attention to the present moment through our senses: taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing,” Toya Roberson-Moore, MD, associate medical director and psychiatrist at Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center, told Health.


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