Excessive Sweating, Anxiety and Panic
Sweating too much (from the armpits, hands and often the face) is a very common anxiety symptom.
Sweating excessively usually happens during physical exertion (such as exercise) or when we are too hot. It's
the body's way of helping us to cool down. (The warm sweat reaches the body surface where it evaporates, taking heat away
from the body).
... We all know that we sweat during vigorous exercise and in high temperatures, but why do we sweat due to anxiety and
Anxiety and panic relate to danger. Our mind thinks we are going to get hurt and causes our body to respond appropriately.
It's the fight-or-flight response and it is initiated by adrenaline which increases our body's metabolism to prepare us for
action. This increase in metabolism produces heat.
We have to fight or run away.
To enable us to do this, our heartbeat speeds up to pump blood more quickly to the major muscle groups (arms, legs, chest)
to supply them with immediate energy to help us fight or flee. The increase in metabloism and energy production basically
makes us hotter inside and we sweat to cool down.
Adrenaline also stimulates the sweat glands to cool down any heat produced so even when we are only slightly anxious we
may sweat more. Many people experience 'sweaty palms' even though they are only mildly anxious.
The anxiety symptoms we experience and the strength of such symptoms vary from person to person. Some people sweat more, others
tremble whilst for many the main focus is palpitations.
It is important to realise that when we focus on one particular symptom and start to worry about it this causes more
anxiety which increases the problem.
With Symptoms such as sweating (and trembling and blushing) where our 'weakness' is clearly visible to others it is
remarkably easy to fall into a cycle of worrying about the problem which increases the symtoms which increases the worrying
and so on.
Other anxiety and panic symptoms related to the fight-or flight reaction include:-
Palpitations (Rapid / strong / irregular heartbeat).
Fast and shallow breathing.
Trembling and shaking.
Legs feel like jelly.
Dry throat and difficulty swallowing.
Dizziness and feeling light-headed.
Tightness across the chest.
Needing the toilet.
Generally feeling 'on-edge'.
›› Read more about fight-or-flight
Reducing Sweating Caused by Anxiety
In some cases, excessive sweating can be caused by health problems such as high trhyroid levels and diabetes so it is
very important important to obtain medical advice about any sweating issues to ensure that it's not due to physical
problems or illness.
Once it is established that the sweating is caused by anxiety there certain things that can be done to help the
1. Avoid spicy foods and alcohol.
2. Wear loose-fitting natural clothes – Avoid tight-fitting clothes and man-made fibres wherever
3. Use antiperspirants that stop perspiration rather than deodorants that merely hide the smell.
4. Avoid strongly perfumed soaps which may irritate the skin.
5. For the feet: use absorbant foot powder / wear leather shoes that allow the feet to breathe rather than
Sweat – Definition:-
The Collins English Dictionary defines sweat as:
(or perspiration) the secretion from the sweat glands especially when profuse and visble as during strenuous activity or
in times of extreme heat.
Anxiety Disorders Book