We’re all familiar with the calming and soothing effects of ASMR, but it’s essential to acknowledge that not everyone experiences it in the same way. While ASMR is renowned for its wonderful effects, there is another side to it that is frequently overlooked. What’s the negative effects of ASMR? Is ASMR bad for anxiety?

In this post, we‘ll look at the less peaceful features of ASMR, short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and how they could affect anxiety.

The Positive Aspects of ASMR

Before we explain in detail about the negative effects of ASMR, let’s review the positive aspect first. The positive aspects of ASMR revolve around its ability to induce relaxation, reduce stress, and serve as an effective sleep aid. For many, ASMR is a valuable tool that provides comfort, tranquility, and a pathway to better mental well-being.

  1. Relaxation and Stress Reduction
    One of the primary attractions of ASMR is its ability to induce deep relaxation and reduce stress. Many individuals find solace in the gentle whispers and subtle sounds that ASMR videos offer.
  2. Sleep Aid
    ASMR is renowned for its effectiveness as a sleep aid. The calming and hypnotic qualities of ASMR content can help individuals struggling with insomnia to fall asleep faster and enjoy a more restful night.
  3. Potential Therapeutic Benefits
    Some studies suggest that ASMR may have therapeutic potential, such as pain reduction and enhanced mood. However, further research is needed to substantiate these claims.

Negative Effects of ASMR

ASMR is a fascinating phenomenon that continues to capture the curiosity of researchers. While there’s a limited body of research on its potential negative effects, anecdotal evidence and preliminary studies offer insights into some concerning aspects.

Here, we’ll explore five potential negative effects of ASMR based on existing knowledge.

  1. Emotional Discomfort
    Some individuals have reported feelings of stress and sadness after engaging with ASMR content. While ASMR is intended to be relaxing, it’s essential to acknowledge that its effects can vary greatly from person to person.
  2. Anxiety Associations
    A study published in PLOS ONE revealed that individuals who experience ASMR are more likely to have negative emotional states and may even be prone to anxiety disorders. This highlights the need to consider the potential impact of ASMR on one’s emotional well-being.
  3. Overstimulation
    Prolonged exposure to ASMR content can lead to overstimulation in some individuals. This overstimulation may result in discomfort, restlessness, or difficulty in relaxing, which is contrary to the intended purpose of ASMR.
  4. Distraction and Sleep Disruption
    While ASMR can be a powerful sleep aid for many, in some cases, it can be overly distracting. People who are particularly sensitive to ASMR triggers might find it challenging to fall asleep when exposed to such stimuli.
  5. Misophonia Triggers
    ASMR content often involves a range of sounds, from gentle whispers to tapping and scratching. However, for certain individuals, specific sounds in ASMR videos can evoke negative emotions or even physical discomfort. This reaction might be indicative of misophonia, a condition characterized by strong negative emotions in response to certain sounds.

Data obtained illustrates temporary improvements in symptoms of depression and chronic pain in those who engage in ASMR. A high prevalence of synaesthesia (5.9%) within the sample suggests a possible link between ASMR and synaesthesia, similar to that of misophonia.

Barratt, E., & Davis, N. (2015). Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state. PeerJ, 3. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.851.

It’s crucial to emphasize that ASMR is a highly individualized experience. While some may find it incredibly soothing, others may encounter the aforementioned negative effects. Given the limited research in this area, it remains important to pay attention to one’s own reactions and feelings when engaging with ASMR content.

If ASMR causes any discomfort, emotional distress, or negative sensations, it’s advisable to discontinue its use and explore alternative relaxation methods. Further research is needed to gain a comprehensive understanding of the potential negative effects of ASMR and its impact on mental health.

How to Identify if ASMR is Causing Negative Effects?

Determining whether ASMR is eliciting negative effects can be complex, as the ASMR experience varies significantly among individuals. Nonetheless, there are several potential indicators that suggest ASMR might be contributing to stress or anxiety in certain cases:

  1. Lack of Relaxation: ASMR is commonly used as a relaxation technique, but its effectiveness for stress or anxiety relief can vary. If ASMR fails to induce a sense of relaxation or if you find it challenging to concentrate on the videos, it may not be an effective tool for managing your stress or anxiety.
  2. Increased Heart Rate: ASMR is generally known for its heart-rate-lowering effects. If, while watching ASMR videos, an individual experiences an elevated heart rate, it could be a sign of underlying stress or anxiety.
  3. Difficulty Concentrating or Focusing: If someone finds it challenging to concentrate on tasks or maintain focus after watching ASMR videos, it might indicate that these videos are contributing to feelings of stress or anxiety.
  4. Negative Mood Changes: While ASMR is often associated with positive mood changes like relaxation and improved mood, some individuals may experience negative mood shifts, such as sadness or irritability, following ASMR video consumption.
  5. Emotional Distress: Some individuals report feeling stress and sadness after watching ASMR videos, underscoring the importance of recognizing and addressing adverse emotional effects.
  6. Sleep Disruption: Despite ASMR’s reputation as a sleep aid, some individuals may find that it disrupts their sleep or makes it difficult to fall asleep.
  7. Signs of Misophonia: If you find yourself feeling anger, anxiety, or agitation triggered by sounds in ASMR content, this could be a telltale sign of misophonia, a condition in which certain sounds provoke strong negative reactions.

Last Words

While the negative effects of ASMR are still an area of ongoing research with limited empirical evidence, it’s vital to prioritize your own well-being. Listening to your own reactions and feelings when engaging with ASMR content is paramount.

If ASMR elicits discomfort or negative emotions, it’s prudent to discontinue its use and explore alternative relaxation methods. As we continue to unravel the intricacies of ASMR, self-awareness remains the best guide to ensure a positive and calming experience.


Can ASMR really help with anxiety?

ASMR can help some individuals manage anxiety, but its effectiveness varies from person to person. It’s important to consider the potential negative effects and consult with a professional if you have severe anxiety.

What should I do if ASMR triggers my anxiety?

If ASMR triggers anxiety for you, it’s best to stop using it and seek alternative relaxation techniques. Consult with a mental health professional for personalized guidance.

Is it possible to become addicted to ASMR?

Yes, some individuals have reported becoming dependent on ASMR for relaxation, which can border on addiction. Using ASMR in moderation is essential to avoid this.

Can ASMR be used in therapy for anxiety?

Some therapists incorporate ASMR into their practice as a relaxation technique, but it’s not suitable for everyone. Discuss this option with your therapist to see if it’s right for you.

What are some alternative relaxation methods for anxiety?

Alternative relaxation methods for anxiety include mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and yoga. Experiment with these techniques to find what works best for you.


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