Is anxiety making you sweat?

Many of us have been in stressful situation where our hands become sweaty and we feel that everybody can smell us from a mile away. Excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis is a common symptom of anxiety and it is something we all struggle with at some time in our lives.

Is anxiety making you sweatWhy do we sweat when we are anxious?

Anxiety over stimulates your nervous system. These over stimulated nerves cause your heart to beat harder and faster, your lungs to take up more oxygen and your sweat glands to produce more sweat.  Certain people already have a tendency to sweat more than others and anxious thoughts or emotions can worsen things even further.

Our minds are not so occupied at night while we sleep allowing our thoughts and emotions to wander. Night time sweating, or sleep hyperhidrosis, can rob you of desperately needed rest and relaxation and being tired during the day limits your ability to handle stressful situations.

Excessive sweating can add to your anxiety levels. You will probably want to avoid getting too close to people or even touching them out of fear that they will feel your clammy hands or smell your sweat soaked clothing.

Recently, studies have shown that certain anti-depressants have the unpleasant side-effect of causing excessive sweating. Fortunately alternative anti-depressants are available without this added side-effect so perhaps a change in medication can be the simple solution.

Sometimes, excessive sweating can indicate an underlying illness such as an overactive thyroid, low blood sugar or some form of infection.

What to do about excessive sweating

It would be wise to first visit your doctor to ensure that the excessive sweating is not caused by a serious or life threatening illness. If anxiety is making you sweat, it is always best to treat the anxiety first, before trying to treat the symptoms.

Your anxiety may be caused by to little brain hormones. Some anti-depressants have the ability to increase the necessary brain hormones and consequently make you feel better. It is however important that you discuss the possible side-effects of the anti-depressant medication with your doctor, since some anti-depressants can make you sweat excessively.

Stress can cause you anxiety. The best way to combat stress and its negative effects are to implement some form of relaxation into your daily schedule. Exercise is good at naturally increasing the serotonin levels in your brain and serotonin helps you to relax. Breathing exercises are a good way of releasing tension, as is yoga or meditation.

If you suffer from excessive sweating during your sleep, you should try and cool down your room or the bed that you sleep in. Open a window to allow for good ventilation. Cotton linen and cotton clothing allows your skin to breathe better so rather choose natural material for your clothing and linen as opposed to synthetic materials.

Excessive sweating is part of anxiety, so until you have your anxiety under control try not to add to your anxiety levels by worrying about excessive sweating. Rather try to limit the influence of excessive sweating on your interaction with people. Try the following to reduce the impact of excessive sweating:

  • Wear clothes and socks made of natural material such as cotton so that your skin can breathe more easily.
  • Slip out of your shoes whenever you can to allow your feet to cool down.
  • Alternate your shoes so that you don’t wear the same shoes everyday.
  • You can ask your doctor for a prescription for antiperspirant which is stronger than the over-the-counter ones. These are usually rubbed into the skin before bedtime.
  • Avoid eating strong smelling foods such as onions and garlic, since these can cause a stronger scent when sweating.

Even though excessive sweating is not life threatening, it does have a negative impact on your quality of life. Many people suffer from anxiety and its consequences, but it doesn’t and shouldn’t control your life.

References:

Sisk, Jennifer. “Hyperhidrosis.” Gale Encyclopedia of Children’s Health: Infancy through Adolescence. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. (September 30, 2012). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3447200291.html

Turkington, Carol; Frey, Rebecca. “Hyperhidrosis.” Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd Ed... 2006. Encyclopedia.com. (September 30, 2012). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3451600822.html

“Hyperhidrosis.” Mayo Clinic.2012 Mayoclinic.com. (September 30, 2012). http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hyperhidrosis/DS01082

Ghaleiha, A; Jahangard, L… “Oxybutynin reduces sweating in depressed patients treated with sertraline: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study”. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 2012 Dovepress.com (September 30, 2012). http://www.dovepress.com/articles.php?article_id=11003

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