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Research suggests connection between excessive sweating and mental health conditions
WASHINGTON (March 1, 2019) — Hyperhidrosis associated with anxiety, depression and ADD
Board-certified dermatologist Dee Anna Glaser, MD, FAAD, started noticing something concerning in her patients with hyperhidrosis, a condition that causes excessive sweating.
“Many of them had either anxiety or depression,” she says. “There were some who had said they had suicidal thoughts because their sweating was ruining their life.”
Dr. Glaser, who is a professor, interim chair and director of clinical research and aesthetic and laser surgery in the department of dermatology at St. Louis University School of Medicine, decided to conduct a study to further understand the connection between mental health and hyperhidrosis.
Her results, presented at the 2019 American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting in Washington, indicated that people with hyperhidrosis are more likely than the general population to have anxiety, depression and attention deficit disorder, regardless of gender or age.
“To some degree was I surprised, but based on what I was hearing in my clinics, I wasn’t,” Dr. Glaser says. “I am a little surprised at just how prevalent this is.”
Of the 500 hyperhidrosis patients involved in the study, 13.8 percent had anxiety, 12.4 percent had depression and 6.4 percent had ADD — all rates higher than those reported in the general population. While the severity of patients’ hyperhidrosis and the body location involved didn’t impact the likelihood of having a mental health condition, there was a correlation with the number of body locations affected by hyperhidrosis.
Dr. Glaser said she was most surprised by the association between hyperhidrosis and ADD. “I honestly don’t know what to make of it,” she says. “I think we need to look into that more and connect with individuals who have experience with ADD and together understand what that link may be.”
According to Dr. Glaser, the nature of the relationship between hyperhidrosis and mental health conditions is not yet clear. While more research will be necessary to evaluate this relationship, she says, it’s important for patients and doctors to be aware of this potential connection.
“We need to proactively ask our patients with hyperhidrosis if they suffer with or have symptoms of anxiety, depression or ADD,” she says. “We can let them know that’s pretty common and help them find care from the appropriate professionals.”
Dr. Glaser says this is especially important because the onset of hyperhidrosis tends to occur in the teen and early adult years. “This population can be vulnerable to mental health conditions,” she says. “Often they feel isolated and feel they’re the only ones with these problems.”
“If you have excessive sweating in a certain area of the body at times when it’s not normal to be sweating, talk to a board-certified dermatologist,” Dr. Glaser adds. “New treatment options for hyperhidrosis are starting to emerge, and a dermatologist can determine the best treatment to help you manage this condition and improve your quality of life.”
About the AAD Headquartered in Rosemont, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 20,000 physicians worldwide, the AAD is committed to advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the AAD at (888) 462-DERM (3376) or aad.org. Follow the AAD on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology), Twitter (@AADskin), Instagram(@AADskin1) and YouTube (AcademyofDermatology).
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