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Anxiety and Hyperhidrosis: How Are They Connected?

Anxiety and Hyperhidrosis

Sweating is a normal body reaction. The smell might be unpleasant, but when temperatures are high, sweating cools your body. But sometimes, you may notice you're sweating too much even when your body doesn't need cooling.

Excessive sweating unrelated to exercise or body temperature is referred to as hyperhidrosis. This type of sweating is often triggered by fear or stress. The good thing is that with treatment, you can stop hyperhidrosis and resume your normal life.

How Are Hyperhidrosis and Anxiety Connected?

There are various reasons that anxiety can intensify sweating. Here they are...

Anxiety Activates Your Body's Stress Response, and This Increases Sweating

Most people sweat when they're stressed or nervous. Anxiety and nervousness tend to increase activity in the nervous system, increasing your body's alertness and triggering sweat glands. That means when you're nervous, you sweat more.

In other words, sweating is a response to a threat as your body decides whether to flee or fight. This simple action requires you to use energy which increases your body temperature. However, it will be difficult to fight or flee from danger with an overheated body.

Therefore, the body triggers the sweat glands to release sweat to cool you off so you can proceed. Living with anxiety means your brain is always on the lookout for potential threats, which is why you sweat too much.

Sweating Can Trigger Anxiety Symptoms, Increasing Perspiration

On the other hand, you can get anxious about sweating so much that you trigger more sweating. Worrying about excessive sweating can result in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This is a condition where you're constantly worried about everyday things. You'll find yourself worrying about extreme sweating because it:

  • Prevents you from concentrating on work or school
  • Stops you from getting quality sleep
  • Prevents you from enjoying hobbies or just relaxing

Social Anxiety Can Also Lead to Excessive Sweating

Social anxiety disorder can also lead to hyperhidrosis. If you're constantly anxious, it means you're always in fear of drawing negative feedback or embarrassing yourself in public. These feelings can be heightened by certain life events. For instance, if you have to speak in public, meet new people, or join a group, your anxiety may increase. Such people go to great lengths to avoid doing anything that can draw attention to them.

Since stress and fear can trigger sweating, you might notice excessive perspiration, alongside other symptoms like:

  • Head pain
  • Warmth or flushing across the face (blushing)
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Clamminess in the hands

Unfortunately, when you sweat a lot and are nervous that people will notice, you may eventually stop attending social events to avoid such attention.

Aside from social anxiety disorders, people with other conditions like phobias and panic disorders are also likely to experience hyperhidrosis. A person with a phobia or a panic disorder will sweat excessively if they encounter a situation that triggers fears or panic.

How to Manage Anxious Sweating

Even though sweating is normal, the idea of discussing extreme sweating with a healthcare giver can trigger emotional discomfort and anxiety. That's why most people with hyperhidrosis don't go for treatment. But when left unaddressed, excessive sweating can impact one's quality of life.

You'll find some people withdrawing from social events. If you know you sweat a lot when around people, you may choose to cancel plans to avoid the anxiety that follows. You might feel sad and guilty about canceling plans with friends, which can affect your mental health even more.

With that said, if you know your sweating is related to anxious thoughts, there are steps you can take to manage it so that it does not affect your life too much. Some of those steps include:

  • Try and reduce stress: Understandably, it's easier said than done. But when stressed, try to take deep breaths. This can prevent the body from activating the stress response that triggers sweating.
  • Relaxed breathing: Take slow deep breaths anytime you're feeling anxious. This will ease stress and make you feel relaxed. The more comfortable you are, the less likely you'll sweat excessively.
  • Avoid stimulants: Stimulants like alcohol and coffee can irritate the nervous system, triggering excessive sweating.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleeping allows your body to calm down and relax.
  • Find a positive distraction: Focusing on what makes you anxious will intensify your worry and make you sweat even more. Instead, try and focus on positive feelings to try and relax your brain.
  • Go for treatment: Hyperhidrosis can be treated through an operation. The surgery has a high rate of success, and you won't have to worry about the condition anymore.

Hyperhidrosis can make your life difficult and even lead to other mental health issues like loneliness. If you have noticed that you sweat a lot when stressed and nervous, talk to a healthcare provider about how you can address the problem.

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