Ever feel overwhelmed with anxiety and like your heart is beating right out of your chest? You may be having a panic attack. Over one in 10 Americans suffer from at least one panic attack a year, and around 2.7 percent of all Americans — roughly six million people — have panic disorders. While there are many different strategies and courses of treatment to better manage them, a certain trick has started going viral, with many online saying that sour candy helps mitigate their panic attacks.
These panicked moments are typically defined as physical reactions to nonthreatening stimuli or situations. You could be going about your day as you normally would and then suddenly experience shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, a racing heart, sweating, tingling, or numbness, and many people have described them as feeling like having a heart attack.
This is where the candy comes in. A TikTok user Megan recently opened up on the platform about her ongoing panic attacks and said that her therapist told her to buy sour candy to eat when she feels her panic or anxiety starting to build. “Apparently it takes all of your frontal lobe thoughts and puts them in the back,” she explains quickly. “So it gets your body out of fight-or-flight mode.”
Within a few seconds of trying one of the sour bites, she admits that she feels better.
Other viral TikTok videos have used similar tactics for bringing down immediate feelings of anxiety and panic. One user recommended the old trick of biting directly into a lemon to let that familiar tart taste take over your senses, while other say a cold shower can help for similar reasons.
Why are these methods so effective? They’re what therapists call “grounding techniques,” which help people re-center themselves and live in the present as opposed to spiraling over other intrusive thoughts that cause that panic, stress, or anxiety in the first place. While sour candy might help with panic attacks in the moment, it doesn’t replace seeing an actual mental health counselor, psychiatrist, or other healthcare professional to obtain a diagnosis. Make sure you get a professional opinion to figure out a long-term treatment plan!