Sweat Life: Living With Anxiety and Hyperhidrosis
Note: This article is not intended as professional medical advice. If you need help or have further questions about hyperhidrosis and anxiety, consult your doctor.
When it comes to hyperhidrosis and anxiety, it can be difficult to tell where one starts and the other begins.
People with hyperhidrosis sweat constantly — whether they're in a chilling climate or on a tropical oasis. But when your nerves pile up, you can sweat even more than your normal sweaty state.
So what gives?
Anxiety and hyperhidrosis are closely related. In this post, we'll unpack how they affect each other and tips and resources to help you manage your sweat when you’re stressed.
Anxiety and Hyperhidrosis
Anxiety and hyperhidrosis go hand-in-hand.
When your nerves set in, you start to sweat. Hyperhidrosis also causes feelings of self-consciousness, which can make you sweat even more.
All humans experience anxiety and sweat, but how much you sweat and its cause look different for everyone.
Some people only sweat excessively during nerve-wracking situations while others sweat profusely without warning. .
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is your body’s response to stress.
Many people experience stress and anxiety. Moving, financial struggles, work. A first date, starting a new job or taking a test. Stress and anxiety are everywhere.
However, anxiety disorders are slightly different.
With anxiety disorders, fear and anxiousness stay with you. It can be intense and debilitating and cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, anxiety disorders interfere with everyday experiences like crossing the street, leaving your home or entering an elevator.
Anxiety manifests differently in everyone. Symptoms include:
- Feeling hot, especially around your face
- Clammy hands
For more information and resources, check out the ADAA’s resources on stress and anxiety or speak with a doctor or therapist.
How Are Hyperhidrosis and Anxiety Related?
First, let’s tackle a common misconception — anxiety doesn’t cause hyperhidrosis.
While outside forces like a medication or illness can cause secondary hyperhidrosis, there is no known cause of primary hyperhidrosis.
However, anxiety and hyperhidrosis are a double-edged sword. Anxiety often exacerbates heavy sweating.
Many people sweat when they get nervous. Nerves or anxiety increase nervous system activity, driving adrenaline and triggering your sweat glands. In other words, you start sweating more because you’re nervous.
According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, up to 32 percent of people with social anxiety experience excessive sweating.
Here are some common symptoms:
- Reluctant to shake hands or make physical contact
- Socially withdrawn
- Consistently feeling self-conscious
- Worry constantly about stained clothing
- Spending a bulk of your day dealing with sweat, including changing clothes, keeping pads under your arms, washing and wearing bulky, dark clothes
Why Does Anxiety Trigger Excessive Sweating?
There are several reasons why anxiety causes or exacerbates sweating.
1. Anxiousness activates the body's stress response, increasing perspiration.
Stress hormones weren’t designed to give you anxiety before a first date. They’re supposed to alert you to danger, heightening your senses to react quickly (the classic fight or flight response).
However, daily life is slightly different. As your stress-response increases (i.e., your sense of “danger”) your body’s reaction increases as well.
During nervous or anxious moments, your heart beats faster and your breathing quickens. The shift increases your body temperature, triggering sweating to cool down.
It’s also important to note that anxiety and sweating occur in various degrees. Someone who is exceptionally stressed might experience dramatic sensations, while someone who is only slightly anxious might experience a mild blush.
2. Sweating triggers anxious symptoms, increasing perspiration.
On the flip side, you can get anxiety about excessive sweating. Reacting to your sweat increases your body’s stress response, aggravating your stress symptoms.
If you start sweating and then worry about excessive sweating, this can manifest into anxiety-related symptoms, causing you to sweat more.
Managing Hyperhidrosis and Anxiety
Sweating is normal. But living with hyperhidrosis and anxiety complicates things.
If you notice a correlation between sweating and your nervous or anxious thoughts, there are ways to manage it, so it doesn’t impose on your life. Here are a few tips:
- Relaxed breathing: Slow, deep breaths help calm the body and nervous system. Relaxed breathing also eases stress. The more comfortable your body is, the less likely it will sweat involuntarily.
- Reduce stress: While relaxed breathing can help you during the moment, reducing your stress will help prevent triggering your body’s stress response.
- Get regular sleep: Sleep is a great tool to keep your body calm, relaxed and unstressed.
- Avoid stimulants: Stimulants like coffee and alcohol can irritate your nervous system.
For more information: If you’re struggling to manage your anxiety and sweating and want more resources, see Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s Resources Page.
Managing Your Sweat With Thompson Tee
There’s nothing worse than nervous or anxious sweating. We created Thompson Tee’s sweat proof undershirt to tackle those moments (and life in general). With its integrated sweat proof barriers, your pits stay cool even through the most anxiety-inducing moments.