Psychological Causes of Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating not influenced by external factors. It can be localized (affecting hands, feet, or face) or generalized (affecting the entire body). Between 3 to 15% of the global population experiences this harmless yet life-quality diminishing condition. From a psychosomatic perspective, it’s a significant indicator of emotional distress.

Psychosomatics of Sweating

The sympathetic nervous system regulates sweat secretion. Here’s the process at the psychological level:

  1. A nerve center in the spinal cord (thoracic region) receives signals from the brain.
  2. Nerve fibers transmit these impulses to the sweat glands.
  3. This triggers sweat secretion.

Increased sweating results from heightened brain signals, elevating cortisol and adrenaline levels, the stress hormones. Therefore, a person with hyperhidrosis is typically in a state of chronic stress, indicating low stress resilience. Anxiety or emotional tension amplifies sweat production.

Signs of Psychosomatic Sweating:

  • Unwarranted anxiety and worry.
  • Reduced attention span, easily distracted.
  • Sudden bouts of sweating, independent of external factors.
  • Apathy and loss of interest in life.
  • Sleepiness.
  • Fatigue and feeling worn out after sweating episodes.
  • No increase in sweating in hot or humid environments, but intense sweating during episodes, irrespective of conditions.
  • Sweating during an episode can be so severe that it soaks socks, shoes, or shirts in minutes.

Interesting Fact: Sweat from psychosomatic hyperhidrosis has a more pungent smell due to the activity of apocrine glands (located in the armpits and groin). These glands’ secretions are rich in fats, creating a breeding ground for bacteria.

Psychological Causes of Hyperhidrosis

Physiologically, sweating serves as a protective function, expelling toxins and maintaining thermoregulation and electrolyte balance. Normal triggers include heat, physical exertion, and excitement. Yet, hyperhidrosis may also be symptomatic of various conditions:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Thyrotoxicosis
  • Infections
  • Poisoning
  • Hormonal imbalances (common in teenagers and women)
  • Cancer
  • Kidney disorders
  • Prolonged medication use
  • Depression and other disorders affecting the sympathetic nervous system
  • Vegetative-vascular dystonia
  • CNS disorders, including substance abuse
  • Panic attacks

Nighttime exacerbation can be due to:

  • Tuberculosis or other infections
  • Nightmares
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Medications

Some individuals experience increased sweating in response to pain. The more intense and frequent the pain, the more severe the sweating. However, other psychological factors are also influential.

Excessive sweating reflects internal fears, complexes, or a desire to conceal something, leading to stress, emotional and physical exhaustion, and hormonal imbalances, thus increasing sweat production. Over time, this can further aggravate anxiety, leading to maladaptation.

Chronic stress can trigger neurosis, characterized by:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Appetite changes
  • Sleep issues
  • Weakness
  • Apathy
  • Cognitive decline
  • Rigidity or hyperactivity
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Fear

Neurosis’ somatic symptoms include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Tachycardia
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea
  • Limb tremors

Untreated, neurosis can become chronic.

Important: Sweating might indicate various diseases or be a physiological trait. Accurate diagnosis requires medical examination.

Sinelnikov’s View

Excessive sweating, according to Sinelnikov, signifies repressed negative emotions and deeds. Anger, irritation, resentment, guilt, anxiety, fear, disgust, impatience, etc., can all contribute to hyperhidrosis. Sinelnikov advises against external remedies, recommending psychotherapy to cleanse the subconscious instead.

Louise Hay’s Perspective

Skin, as a psychosomatic sensory organ, reflects relationship challenges with the outside world and people. Hay associates hyperhidrosis with fear, worry, perceived threats, and old resentments. Her affirmation: “I lovingly protect myself with peaceful, joyful thoughts. The past is forgiven and forgotten. I am free now.”

Lise Bourbeau’s Interpretation

Bourbeau links excessive sweating to emotional turmoil, specifically the long-term suppression of emotions reaching a breaking point. She also points out that malodorous sweat indicates self-hatred (anger for repressing negative emotions). Healing requires self-forgiveness and allowing oneself to feel and express emotions in socially acceptable ways.

Treatment Methods for Hyperhidrosis

The treatment approach varies based on symptom intensity, disease duration, and severity (primary or secondary, with or without accompanying illnesses). Usually, a comprehensive treatment is recommended:

  1. Medication: For self-care, herbal teas like chamomile, motherwort, and valerian can be used. Physicians might prescribe stronger drugs like tranquilizers, antidepressants, and anticholinergics which inhibit sweat gland activity. These, particularly tranquilizers, should only be prescribed by a specialist.
  2. Psychotherapy: The main objective is to enhance the client’s stress resilience. Working through fears and anxieties, learning to handle stressors, improving communication skills, and conflict resolution are essential. Additionally, adjusting personal and external expectations is crucial.

Important: Surgical intervention (removing sweat glands or nerve endings) and Botox injections are radical treatments prescribed only by doctors. These methods don’t suit everyone and have contraindications. Moreover, they don’t address the root cause if it’s psychosomatic.

Self-help measures to reduce hyperhidrosis symptoms:

  1. Outdoor Exercise: Activities like running, cycling, and walking improve blood circulation and mood.
  2. Relaxation Techniques: Besides meditation, autogenic training, and yoga, find individual relaxation methods like music, reading, or herbal baths.
  3. Work Environment Reassessment: If work is overly stressful, consider taking a break or changing jobs.
  4. Sunbathing: Sunlight provides essential vitamins and boosts endorphins.
  5. Diet and Sleep: Ensure a balanced diet and proper sleep routine.
  6. Contrast Showers: They fortify both the body and mind.
  7. Socialize and Develop Hobbies: Engaging in enjoyable activities and spending time with friends or pets helps in relaxation.

Preventing Hyperhidrosis

Avoiding stressors is key to preventing hyperhidrosis. Triggers vary subjectively and can include changes in living or working environments, hormonal fluctuations in women, exams, conflicts, professional burnout, or high moral responsibility jobs.

Other lifestyle factors also impact hyperhidrosis. For instance, hot drinks, alcohol, spicy and fatty foods stimulate sweat glands. Unhealthy habits contribute too. Thus, leading a healthy lifestyle and regularly taking vitamins, preferably under a specialist’s guidance, is advisable.

Hygiene is Crucial: Choose comfortable, well-fitted shoes and lightweight, comfortable clothing. How you perceive your appearance significantly affects your confidence and comfort.

Interesting Fact: The causes of sweating are still being studied, with no unified symptom and condition system identified for diagnosing psychogenic hyperhidrosis. The complexity lies in the interrelation between emotional and thermoregulatory sweating, where each type can be both a cause and an effect.

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