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The Link Between Depression, Anxiety, and Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis)

Medically reviewed by Elaine K. Luo, MD on November 16, 2017Written by Kristeen Cherney on November 16, 2017

Sweating is a necessary response to rising temperatures. It helps keep you cool when it’s hot outside or if you’re working out. But sweating excessively — regardless of temperature or exercise — could be a sign of hyperhidrosis.

Depression, anxiety, and excessive sweating can sometimes occur at the same time. Certain types of anxiety may cause hyperhidrosis. Also, you might experience feelings of anxiety or depression if excessive sweating significantly interferes with your daily activities.

Read on to learn more about how they’re connected and if it’s time to talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Social anxiety disorder as a cause of hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is sometimes a secondary symptom of social anxiety disorder. In fact, according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, up to 32 percent of people with social anxiety experience hyperhidrosis.

When you have social anxiety, you may have intense stress when you’re around other people. The feelings are often worse when you have to speak in front of others or if you’re meeting new people. Also, you might avoid drawing attention to yourself.

Excessive sweating is just one symptom of social anxiety disorder. You might also:

  • blush
  • feel hot, especially around your face
  • feel lightheaded
  • get headaches
  • tremble
  • stutter when you speak
  • have clammy hands

Anxiety about excessive sweating

When you’re worried about excessive sweating, this can manifest into anxiety. You might have some of the symptoms of social anxiety too. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is more likely to develop as a secondary symptom of hyperhidrosis.

GAD isn’t usually a cause of hyperhidrosis. But it can develop over time when you worry about excessive sweating. You might find yourself concerned about sweating all the time, even on days when you’re not sweating. The worries may keep you up at night. They may also interfere with your concentration at work or school. At home, you might have problems relaxing or enjoying time with family and friends.

When depression occurs

Excessive sweating can lead to social withdrawal. If you’re worried about sweating during your daily activities, this can cause you to give up and stay home. You might lose interest in activities you once enjoyed. Plus, you might feel guilty about avoiding them. On top of that, you could feel hopeless.

If you have any of these feelings for an extended period of time, then you might be experiencing depression in relation to hyperhidrosis. It’s important to address and treat excessive sweating so that you can get back to the people and activities you love.

Solutions

Primary hyperhidrosis (which isn’t caused from anxiety or any other condition) must be diagnosed by a doctor. Your doctor may give you prescription creams and antiperspirant to help control your sweat glands. As excessive sweating is managed over time, your feelings of anxiety and depression may also subside.

If anxiety and depression don’t go away despite treatment for hyperhidrosis, you might need help for these conditions too. Both anxiety and depression may be treated with therapy or medications like mild antidepressants. In turn, these treatments can also decrease stress that can make your sweating worse. Staying active and social among friends and family can also boost your mood.

If you’re worried about the sweating that you experience with social anxiety, you’ll have to treat the underlying cause. Behavioral therapy and medications can help.

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