Sour Power: TikTok trend can provide relief from panic and anxiety attacks, experts even agree

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax investigates if a TikTok trend that claims popping a sour candy in your mouth will help bring sweet relief to anxiety and panic attacks.

“I suffer from depression and anxiety,” says Connie Lucey, who told Action News Jax Ben Becker she has never heard of the trend – but many others have, and you will now.


Videos on the platform have tens of millions of views where posters swear by the sour technique.

In one video, a TikTok user said, “My therapist told me to eat a Warhead whenever I’m feeling a panic attack coming on and when I say I’ve never had anything rip me out of the throws of a f***ing panic attack faster I f***ing mean it.”

It’s not only Warheads but also candy like Airheads and Sour Patch Kids.

“When I say sour power, you say what?” Becker asked Certified Psychologist Dr. Justin D’Arienzo. “I say distraction with a punch.” The science behind sour candy includes acidic ingredients that releases a rush of dopamine, a chemical linked with pleasure and reward.

“It is thought stopping. It’s a grounding technique,” says D’Arienzo. “And it also triggers the brain’s natural reward system when you eat it. So, think about spicy foods. It really does the same thing.”

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According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 19.1% of people ages 18 and older in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders - making anxiety the most common mental illness in the country.

The CDC, Department of Health and Human Services, and Cleveland Clinic all link anxiety and panic attacks to depression.

Some experts call it an unhappiness epidemic, blamed on people having more choices than ever, including food, shopping, or information on your smartphone.

D’Arienzo says sour power does have weaknesses.

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“So, to be clear that it’s a tool for acute symptoms. It’s not going to cure your anxiety or depression. So, it doesn’t replace psychotherapy and medication if that’s needed,” says D’Arienzo.

What exactly is a panic attack? According to the Mayo Clinic, it includes:

  • A feeling of being out of control
  • A fear of death or impending doom
  • A pounding/racing heart

D’Arienzo says if you are buying sour candy, make sure it’s a well-known brand from the store and not something online. That’s because there’s no telling what those ingredients might be.

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