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What is the Link Between Hyperhidrosis and Anxiety?

By Sam Nardi / Apr 24, 19
Dermadry Team

Is anxiety a symptom or a cause of hyperhidrosis? If you suffer from both, you may be wondering if your excessive sweating is a symptom of your anxiety or if your excessive sweating is the root cause of your anxiety. The relationship between the two is not well understood, however, many recent studies have been conducted with the aim of exploring the relationship between the two, focusing on the prevalence of anxiety in hyperhidrosis patients.

 

There is no evidence that anxiety is a cause of hyperhidrosis

 

Since hyperhidrosis is idiopathic, meaning there is no known cause, there is no evidence that anxiety is a cause of hyperhidrosis. However, the link between stress and sweat is a long-established recognized phenomenon, that is often simply referred to as stress sweat. Excessive sweat production when the body encounters a dangerous or stressful situation is normal and is part of the human fight-or-flight response. This relationship between the two leaves many thinking that anxiety also plays a crucial role in excessive sweat production, also known as hyperhidrosis.


While hyperhidrosis is a non-life-threatening condition, it can pose a serious threat to your overall mental health and general well-being. The social burden of hyperhidrosis is significant and can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Many of the symptoms of hyperhidrosis are not just physical but mental as well, with many sufferers reporting symptoms that are similar to those of social anxiety. Patients with primary hyperhidrosis report significant impairment in social situations such as meeting people, shaking hands, and developing intimate relationships, which is similar to the symptoms of social anxiety. A 2002 study titled Hyperhidrosis in Social Anxiety Disorder even referred to hyperhidrosis as a symptom rather than as a condition.

 

There's a stigma associated with excessive sweating


The stigma associated with sweating can cause sufferers to feel anxious, self-conscious, and generally uneasy about their condition. A recent study conducted in 2016 aimed to compare the prevalence of anxiety in patients with and without hyperhidrosis. They concluded that anxiety was much more prevalent in those with hyperhidrosis than those without. The prevalence of anxiety in patients with hyperhidrosis was 21.3%, in comparison to 7.5% in those without hyperhidrosis. This significant increase was observed in all hyperhidrosis subtypes, including palmoplantar, axillary, and craniofacial hyperhidrosis. Additionally, a positive correlation was found between the severity of hyperhidrosis (mild, moderate, and severe) and anxiety, suggesting that anxiety is a symptom of hyperhidrosis and not the other way around.

 

Excessive sweating of the underarms


Another study conducted in 2014 on 197 patients suffering from severe primary hyperhidrosis revealed that the prevalence of anxiety among this group of studied individuals was 49.6% (97 out of 197 people). This prevalence was significantly higher than the frequency of anxiety in the general population, which is estimated to be approximately 16%. It is even significantly higher than the prevalence of anxiety in those suffering from other chronic medical illnesses, which is estimated to be between 18-35%. This demonstrates that the prevalence of anxiety in those with severe primary hyperhidrosis far exceeds the average and even exceeds that of those with other chronic illnesses. This is a compelling insight into the forceful impact that hyperhidrosis has on the lives of its sufferers.


So, is hyperhidrosis an anxiety cause or symptom? Well, it can be both. The distinction can be made by properly identifying and diagnosing the two types of hyperhidrosis: primary and secondary. Secondary hyperhidrosis is characterized by excessive sweating as a symptom of an underlying medical condition or as a side effect of a medication. In this case, hyperhidrosis is a symptom of another condition, which could be anxiety in some patients. In the case of primary hyperhidrosis, the excessive sweating is of primary and unknown origin, meaning that in this case, anxiety would be considered a symptom of hyperhidrosis (the underlying condition). Primary hyperhidrosis is spontaneous, uncontrollable, and chronic excessive sweating, that has no recognized trigger or cause. However, it can be exacerbated by stress and anxiety, leading some to believe that it is a symptom of anxiety, rather than its own condition. This can lead to misdiagnosis and further misunderstanding and under-reporting of the condition.

 

Excessive sweating in social situations


As evidenced in the statistical findings of these aforementioned scientific studies, there is a strong positive correlation between the two. Hyperhidrosis is not only caused by emotional stimulation, so a misunderstanding of the relationship between the two can lead many individuals to attribute their excessive sweating as a symptom of anxiety, which delays the search for a solution for primary hyperhidrosis. At Dermadry, our mission is to spread awareness about primary hyperhidrosis, and our solution. To learn more about how our iontophoresis machine can effectively treat excessive sweating and help you regain confidence and control of your life, shop our product range below!

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