Do you experience hyperhidrosis or nervous sweating more often than you would like? Does it get worse especially when you are in public and amongst people?
Some people fear nervous sweating in front of others – at a party, for example, or a staff meeting – to the point that it fills their lives with worry. The fear of sweating becomes a monkey on their back and leads them to avoid ordinary occasions and activities. It’s a solvable problem, provided you understand how it works.
What do people with nervous sweating fear? They’re afraid they’ll look odd and defective, sweating profusely in a comfortably cool room. They worry others will think they’re ill, and want to call an ambulance. They worry that others will judge them as extremely nervous and unstable, and not want to socialize or do business with them. They worry that someone will blurt out, “Oh my God, are you okay?”, and they’ll sweat even more as everyone stares at them.
People with a fear of sweating vary in the details. Some fear sweat appearing on their face or forehead where it will be most visible. Others are more concerned with sweaty palms, especially when they have to shake hands or sign documents in front of others. Others worry about their underarms and chest, fearing that sweat will appear on their clothes.
Many people who fear sweating simply sweat more than the average person and become embarrassed about it. They often have family members with the same trait. Others just sweat more when they’re anxious, especially in social situations where they fear being observed. It happens once, and then they fervently hope that it doesn’t happen again.
This “hoping” often makes it happen again.
I’ve worked with a number of people in Chicago who came to see me exclusively for help with the fear of sweating, and I’ve also seen people for whom sweating was one of several panic symptoms they experienced. While people differ in the details, there is a general pattern to this problem, and that gives us a way to treat it.
Social Phobia or Hyperhidrosis?
Nervous sweating is related to a condition called Hyperhidrosis. Primary Hyperhidrosis is a condition of excessive sweating without known cause or triggers, while Secondary Hyperhidrosis is triggered by certain cues, including anxiety.
In general, if the excessive sweating you fear only occurs in situations where others can see you, never when you’re alone, that’s a strong indication it’s a type of Social Phobia.
If you search the Internet, you’ll find lots of medications and even surgery offered for this condition. Be aware that the research on such treatments is not very strong. If yours is a Secondary Hyperhidrosis, it’s probably smart to try the least intrusive methods of help before even thinking of drugs or surgery.
Above all, be an informed consumer, because the Internet is full of questionable self-help products. Check whatever you find with your physician and mental health professional before proceeding.
Self Help for Nervous Sweating
Do you want more help with this? I’ve written a self-help guide, based on the methods I use with clients who come to my office for help with nervous sweating. It’s a pdf of 40+ pages, available as an immediate download. It’s not a cure, nor is it a quick and easy method to simply stop sweating. However, most clients find it at least somewhat helpful in addressing this problem. You can purchase it here for $8.95 USD.
How Nervous Sweating Develops
Step One: People Identify their Sweating as a Shameful Flaw
The first step in developing nervous sweating is noticing that you sweat more, or in a different way, than some other people, and becoming concerned about that. If everybody on Earth had an identical pattern of sweating, there wouldn’t be any fear of it.
Many people with nervous sweating remember the first time they got attention for sweating, and that unpleasant memory stays with them the same way the memory of a first panic attack stays with people. They think of sweating as their flaw, maybe even their fault. They feel shame and embarrassment, and dread each future drop of perspiration.