Hyperhidrosis & Mental Health: There’s a Connection & There’s Help
Around the world, says a report in The Lancet, mental ill-health is rising. Young people are at particular risk with the World Health Organization reporting that depression is the third leading cause of illness and disability among adolescents, and suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19.
While this should concern everyone, those living with hyperhidrosis (Hh or excessive sweating) and their healthcare providers should pay particular attention as research shows that excessive sweating often brings additional mental health risks.
The good news? Appropriate care for both skin and mental health can help.
For example, according to Practical Dermatology, “structured psychotherapeutic interventions, cognitive behavior therapy, behavior therapy, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, and structured breathing techniques all have been associated with improved therapeutic outcomes and improvement in overall well-being [in patients with skin disorders].” These, ideally, should be taught by a mental health specialist that understands and has experience with skin conditions, so that, combined with concrete and effective treatment for the skin issue (like Hh), both the skin problem and any related emotional suffering can be improved.
What Do We Know About Hh and Mental Health?
Here are some examples of the mental health impacts of Hh documented by research:
- Reported psycho-social ramifications of Hh include decreased confidence, depression,1 embarrassment, anxiousness, sadness, anger, and feelings of hopelessness.2
- People with Hh tell IHhS about sweat “ruining” life and “controlling” life; feelings of self-harm/suicide, anxiety, isolation, depression, “doom”, shame, and being an “outcast.” Other terms we hear include: isolation, stress, panic, disdain, disgust, and “drowning.”
- 75% of those with excessive sweating say the condition has had negative impacts on their social life, sense of well-being, and emotional and mental health.3
- The prevalence of anxiety and depression is significantly higher in those with Hh than those without Hh (21.3% vs 7.5% and 27.2% vs 9.7%, respectively).4
Fortunately, research shows there can be improvement in mental health with hyperhidrosis treatment. This is similar to research with other skin conditions which found that successful treatment (leading to improved skin symptoms) also led to improvement in psychological symptoms and better quality of life, too.
If you or a loved one or your patients are dealing with Hh, there are treatments and combinations of treatments that can make a significant difference for physical, social and emotional well-being. And seeking help from mental health professionals can compound improvements while simultaneously helping you to cope with the full range of life challenges.
If you or anyone you know is in emotional crisis and in the United States, call 988 to access the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress and prevention and crisis resources.
3. Doolittle J, Walker P, Mills T, Thurston J. Hyperhidrosis: an update on prevalence and severity in the United States. Archives of Dermatological Research. 2016;308(10):743-749. doi:10.1007/s00403-016-1697-9.