The Link Between Too Much Sweating and Anxiety, Explained
Anxiety can cause too much sweating. Here’s why stress pushes your sweat glands on overdrive.
Many social situations can trigger too much sweating. Doing a presentation, meeting someone for the first time, even feeling out of place can induce social anxiety that can lead to excessive sweating. While it may be embarrassing, the Journal of Neurology and Neuromedicine notes that this type of stress sweating is normal. However, excessive sweating that’s not related to heat or exercise could be a case of hyperhidrosis.
Stress + Anxiety = Hyperhidrosis
According to a study in the Scientific Electronic Library Online, stress is the number one cause of anxiety. Anxious people stress over almost everything, and that stress can lead to too much sweating. Stress and anxiety cause the body to secrete fight or flight hormones that prepare you for what’s to come. These hormones increase your breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure. They also activate your sweat glands, triggering sudden profuse sweating.
The excessive sweat caused by stress and anxiety makes you feel self-conscious, creating even more stress that leads to more sweating. If you suffer from anxiety sweats, this cycle might seem familiar to you.
What Is Hyperhidrosis
According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the three main causes of too much sweating are heat, physical activity, and stress. Each reason produces a different type of sweat. Sweat from heat and physical activity is 99% water with small amounts of protein, lipids, and other nutrients. It’s secreted by the eccrine sweat glands aimed to cool you down as it evaporates.
Hyperhidrosis, on the other hand, comes from apocrine sweat glands which take up most of two to four million sweat glands that cover your body. The sweat glands are concentrated in areas where there’s an abundance of hair follicles such as underarms and around the genitals. Apocrine sweat glands secrete thicker sweat which contains more proteins, lipids, and nutrients. Bacteria feast on these proteins and nutrients in stress sweat once they reach the skin’s surface. This results in unwanted moisture and a strong body odor.
According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, hyperhidrosis could be a secondary symptom of social anxiety — 32% of people with anxiety experience it.
Dealing with Too Much Sweating
Too much sweating isn’t an ideal situation, especially if you’re going to do something important. You’ll want to feel and look good. However, “Don’t sweat it!” is (ironically) not the best advice and it’s easier said than done. Here are a few ways to stop underarm sweat and the unpleasant odor that comes with it.
Wear Loose-Fitting Clothes
One way to deal with excessive sweating is wearing loose-fitting, breathable clothes. These can mask , especially on your underarms. These can help you feel more relaxed as well since they don’t hug the figure tightly. Avoid artificial fabrics, which the Journal of Engineered Fibers and Fabric notes, may constrict airflow and aren’t absorbent.
Deodorant prevents undesirable odor. Some formulas can even treat and , like Dove Aerosol Original Nourished and Smooth Deodorant Spray. It provides up to 24 hours of odor protection and consists of ¼ moisturizing cream for smooth underarms. Spray it six to eight inches from clean skin and you’re good to go.
Pay Attention to Your Diet
The Public Library of Science notes that processed fatty foods are harder to digest and lower in fiber. Longer digestion times raise your body’s temperature, which can trigger more sweat. Spicy food isn’t much better. Stimulants such as coffee can put your nerves on edge, so you might also want to refrain from consuming too many caffeinated drinks. Instead, drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
Live in the Present
Much of the fear and stress you experience from time to time comes from the need to control the future. Musician Randy Armstrong said, “Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s trouble, it takes away today’s peace.” Of course, thinking about the future isn't exactly bad, but overthinking could neglect your present situation. Letting go of the urge to control every situation can . Focus on the present by doing your best.
Feeling Anxious vs. Social Anxiety Disorder
Feeling anxious is a natural part of everyday life. It’s a normal response to stressful events such as public speaking, being evaluated for a job interview, or meeting new people casually. This anxious feeling that you experience from time to time is different from a chronic social anxiety disorder, which can turn your life upside down.
According to the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, some of the signs are fatigue, panic attacks, fear of social situations, and agitation along with excessive sweating for six months, and more. If you’re wondering whether you have an anxiety disorder, then you better visit your doctor than self-diagnosing. You can manage social anxiety disorders with proper treatment.
Are you suffering from too much sweating? Observe your sweating patterns, triggers, and how often it happens. Understanding these factors can help you deal with your condition better. If your condition occurs too frequently and begins to prevent you from living your life, consult with a doctor for the best course of treatment.