The smell of anxiety

The smell of anxiety

Do you sweat more when you are anxious? You've probably noticed that your sweating increases slightly, but you may not have noticed a change in your smell. However, when you are anxious your body odor changes. And the most interesting thing is that the people around you feel it, but not consciously. In fact, smell is one of the factors that are often overlooked when it comes to carrying out studies related to anxiety, but now some neuroscientists have set out to compensate for this neglect.

More sweat also means more anxiety 

In fact, our body responds differently to anxiety. The standard reaction is one that includes an increase in heart rate, dilated pupils and difficulty in breathing, all due to some hormones generally known as "stress hormones" which affect metabolism through the blood circulation. . This way the whole system prepares itself to react to a potential danger.However, with all these hormones in the blood it is no wonder that the body goes to great lengths to get rid of them, whether through urine, vomit or the sweat. So when you start sweating, because you are anxious, it is because our body is shedding excess hormones. This is also because these hormones stimulate certain areas of the brain closely related to bodily functions, such as the hypothalamus, which when activated, triggers the functioning of the sweat glands. With so many changes in the metabolic level, it is not surprising that our smell changes, too if we are not always able to perceive it. We distill what some scientists have dubbed "the smell of anxiety."Fighting Anxiety in the Information Age

Perceiving the smell of anxiety affects our behavior 

We know that when we are anxious we release certain hormones through sweat. These are not consciously detectable, but they do not go unnoticed by our subconscious. This was shown in a study conducted at the University of Munich, where researchers recruited 30 healthy people who were involved in a business game in which they could choose to make more conservative or riskier decisions. Interestingly, those who had been exposed to the odor of some anxious people (a sample collected in a container) were much slower to decide but made the riskiest decisions. In other words, we are able to perceive anxiety through our sense of smell and this influences our decisions. It is worth remembering that this is not the only study that shows that we are able to smell anxiety. Researchers at the University of Kiel recruited 28 students who were smelled different smells while their brains were scanned. Among these smells were that of some students who were anxious because they had to undergo an important oral exam along with the smell of people who had been doing intense physical activity. brain did not do the same. Neuroscientists noted that the smell of anxiety activated areas associated with emotional processing and empathy, such as the insula, anterior cingulate gyrus, fusiform gyrus, and prefrontal cortex.

A possible explanation 

In the past it was already noted that anxiety, the chemical signals of anxiety and the decision-making process, share the same neuronal activation pattern of the brain so that it would not be completely unreasonable to think that approaching an anxious person could cause to some extent, even the decisions we make. Apparently, even if we are unable to consciously detect the smell of anxiety, our brain processes it and somehow tries to give it an explanation and in some cases it can also generate a similar experience. And all this happens without us noticing.
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