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How to Stop Anxiety Sweating

Jill Johnson

Medically reviewed by Jill Johnson, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 6/19/2022

Ever noticed that when you get a little anxious, your armpits get a little sweaty? Or maybe your forehead beads with perspiration. Turns out that sweating is actually a totally common symptom of anxiety

But just because it’s normal doesn’t make it any less embarrassing. Imagine you are about to give an important presentation at work and suddenly your blouse is stained with sweat. Yikes. 

This condition of sweating more than average is called hyperhidrosis. And, thankfully, there are ways you can manage your anxiety sweating. 

What is Hyperhidrosis? 

Sweat glands play a vital role. They help your body maintain a healthy body temperature, especially when it gets hot out or when you exercise. 

When your sweat glands overreact regularly and it’s not due to another medical issue, it’s a condition called primary hyperhidrosis. If this excessive sweating is centralized in the hands, feet and armpits, it’s called focal hyperhidrosis.

If your sweating is caused by another condition, it is called secondary hyperhidrosis. This can be caused by conditions such as cancer, certain medications, glucose control disorders, an overactive thyroid and menopause. Another thing that can cause secondary hyperhidrosis? Anxiety conditions.

One study of 500 patients with hyperhidrosis, for example, found that nearly 14 percent of them had anxiety.  

Other research indicates that hyperhidrosis is associated with social and emotional distress. However, rates of anxiety or depression haven’t been studied in a large, nationally representative group of people with hyperhidrosis.  

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Symptoms of Hyperhidrosis

If your anxiety leads to nervous sweating (AKA hyperhidrosis), it can manifest in a few different ways. And how you experience hyperhidrosis may be different than how someone else experiences the condition. 

Some people with hyperhidrosis may notice their armpits get really sweaty or their lower back pools with sweat. Or their sweat starts soaking through their clothes. Other people may get sweat beads on their face or their hands and feet. 

Sweating excessively can also cause other symptoms or issues to pop up. For example, you get itchy or irritated, or have skin discoloration, in the areas where you sweat a lot. Body odor can also become an issue — this is caused by bacteria on the skin mixing with sweat.

Treating Hyperhidrosis

While there is no cure for focal hyperhidrosis, you can treat — and even cure — secondary hyperhidrosis.

First, you can try to address the actual sweating. To do this, a healthcare provider may recommend switching to an aluminum-based antiperspirant, which works by sealing up the sweat glands. You can find aluminum-based antiperspirant over the counter, or a medical professional can offer a prescription-strength option.

Another option is botulinum toxin injections (also known as Botox) in the areas where you sweat a lot. These injections can block the nerves that cause sweating. 

But while these options may address excessive sweating caused by anxiety, they won’t help with your underlying anxiety. 

Deal With Your Anxiety to Stop Sweating 

If you want to get to the root of your nervous sweating, it means dealing with your anxiety. Not only will you stop having to worry that your stress and worries will lead to embarrassing sweat problems, but your overall quality of life will also improve. 

A mental health professional can help figure out if you are dealing with an anxiety disorder.  There are five known anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder. 

If you are diagnosed with any of these anxiety disorders, a healthcare professional can also help you find the right treatment. Two of the most common ways to treat symptoms of anxiety are therapy and medication — or a combo of both

Understanding Therapy

Therapy is often recommended to people dealing with anxiety. Specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is thought to be a good option. 

In CBT, you will team up with a mental health professional to find the behaviors that trigger or boost your anxiety. From there, you’ll collaborate to come up with ways to change those unhelpful patterns.

Considering Medication

Another option? Anti-anxiety medication. This type of medication needs a prescription, so you’ll need to work with a licensed psychiatry provider.

There are a few types of anti-anxiety medications. One form is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work by increasing the level of serotonin in your brain. Common SSRIs are sertraline, citalopram and fluoxetine.

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Putting an End to Excessive Sweating From Anxiety

If your anxiety is causing excessive sweating, it may be a medical condition called secondary hyperhidrosis. Essentially, all this means is that you are majorly sweating due to another condition (hello, anxiety). 

You may notice that your heart races and you experience excessive sweating in social situations or in stressful situations. Whenever it happens and whatever the cause, constantly worrying about perspiring too much can affect your quality of life — and so can anxiety.  

There are a variety of treatments that can help you stop your excessive sweating during everyday situations. Stronger antiperspirants may help. Another option to consider is Botox injections. 

But to really pull the plug on excess sweating, it’s best to deal with your actual anxiety (if that is determined to be the cause). If you’d like to do this, consider scheduling a consultation with a mental health provider. 

8 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Hyperhidrosis. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17113-hyperhidrosis
  2. What Can I Do For My Excessive Sweating? Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/what-can-i-do-for-my-excessive-sweating
  3. Hyperhidrosis. Medline Plus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007259.htm
  4. Research Suggests Connection Between Excessive Sweating and Mental Health Conditions. American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/news/hyperhidrosis-and-mental-health
  5. Klein, S., Hull, M., Gillard, K., Peterson-Brandt, J., (2020). Treatment Patterns, Depression, and Anxiety Among US Patients Diagnosed with Hyperhidrosis: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Dermatology and Therapy. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13555-020-00439-y
  6. What are the five types of anxiety disorders? U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/what-are-the-five-major-types-of-anxiety-disorders/index.html
  7. What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral
  8. Gomez, A.F. & Hofmann, S.G. (2020, May 26). SSRIs and Benzodiazepines for General Anxiety Disorders (GAD). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/ssris-and-benzodiazepines-general-anxiety

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

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