The effects of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) videos on arousal and mood in adults with and without depression and insomnia

J Affect Disord. 2022 Mar 15:301:60-67. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2021.12.015. Epub 2021 Dec 13.


Background: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a pleasant physiological tingling sensation induced by certain visual and auditory triggers. ASMR has been shown to reduce stress and increase positive mood, but its effects have not yet been studied in populations with clinically severe symptoms. The present study aimed to investigate whether the experience of ASMR improved mood and reduced arousal in people with and without insomnia and depression symptoms.

Methods: 1,037 participants (18-66 years) completed online questionnaires assessing insomnia and depression symptom severity followed by questionnaires on current mood and arousal levels before and after watching an ASMR video. The independent variables were the participant's group (insomnia, depression, insomnia and depression combined or control) and whether they experienced ASMR during the video. The dependent variables were the change in mood and arousal levels after watching the video.

Results: As predicted, all participants showed significantly increased relaxation and improved mood after watching the video with the largest effects for participants who experienced ASMR and for participants in the combined and depression groups. No difference was found between the insomnia and control groups.

Limitations: It is not known how many participants were familiar with ASMR videos prior to taking part in the study (nor whether this is important). Also, the categorization of participants into the ASMR group was based on self-report and thus, not verified.

Conclusions: Results suggest that ASMR videos have the potential to be used to improve mood and reduce arousal with implications for alleviating symptoms of insomnia and depression.

Keywords: Arousal; Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR); Depression; Insomnia; Mood.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Arousal*
  • Depression* / psychology
  • Depression* / therapy
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Meridians*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / psychology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / therapy
  • Video Recording*