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David Baxter

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Sweat & Anxiety: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Can Help
Hyperhidrosis Library
(May/June 2007)

Among healthcare professionals ?in-the-know? about excessive sweating, it?s widely accepted that the over-reaction of sweat glands that characterizes hyperhidrosis is caused, in part, by a complex interaction between the body?s temperature regulating system and emotional triggers. But despite the fact that there is an emotional component to excessive sweating, very little research into the condition has been conducted by psychologists, and even less time and energy has been invested in trying figure out whether, and how, a psychologist?s expertise can help hyperhidrosis sufferers to better cope with their condition and its effects on quality of life. Until now.

As the result of a study of 223 people diagnosed with hyperhidrosis at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, new light is being shed on the prevalence of social anxiety among hyperhidrosis sufferers and, in turn, new ideas are emerging about how to treat the whole hyperhidrosis patient (not just his or her sweating body areas).

This exciting new research was conducted by Autumn Braddock Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic?s Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, and Jonathan Abramowitz Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Braddock and Abramowitz?s study found that 50% of hyperhidrosis sufferers experience social anxiety because of their sweating. The study also found that 40% of hyperhidrosis sufferers feared or avoided situations ? particularly social situations and environments that would be warm in temperature ? because of their sweating-related anxiety. These feelings of anxiety and avoidance behaviors, in turn, had negative impacts on hyperhidrosis sufferers? quality of life. Despite the prevalence of anxiety among the 223 people with hyperhidrosis who participated in the study, psychological treatments were rarely used as part of their health care.

?More research is needed, but what I really have come away with,? says Braddock, ?is that there is a big role for psychological interventions for people with hyperhidrosis. As psychologists, we can?t take away the sweating, but we can teach people how to better cope with the anxiety often associated with it.? For instance, says Braddock, a hyperhidrosis sufferer can learn how to use cognitive-behavioral techniques to reduce how much he or she worries about sweating and how often he or she avoids situations because of fears of sweating. ?Cognitive-behavioral therapy can teach you how to take the catastrophe out of sweating,? says Braddock. Additionally, while lessening anxiety won?t cure hyperhidrosis, it may help to decrease the condition?s symptoms somewhat. ?If you start sweating, then feel anxious about the sweating because you?re embarrassed and feel it?s socially unacceptable, then you?re going to sweat even more. Your body experiences a fear response to the threat of potential embarrassment, resulting in more heat, energy, and consequent sweating. By treating the anxiety, we can then hopefully also ease some, but certainly not all, of the sweating.?

?Someone with hyperhidrosis may not go out and interview for a dream job, or he may quit his job, because he?s worried about how publicly uncomfortable his sweating is. But it doesn?t have to be this way,? says Braddock. ?Cognitive-behavioral therapy can change how you think about sweating, and in turn affect the sweating itself ? and that?s great for quality of life.?

If you would like to augment your medical hyperhidrosis treatments with cognitive-behavioral therapy, Braddock recommends that you seek help from a mental health professional (such as a psychologist, masters-level therapist, or social worker) who specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy. For help locating a therapist specializing in this type of treatment for anxiety disorders, visit the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies online at http://abct.org and use the Association?s ?Find a Therapist? function.

Braddock and Abramowitz?s research has been presented at the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies? annual convention as well as at the Mayo Clinic?s Department of Psychiatry and Psychology Grand Rounds. In July, it will be presented at the World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in Barcelona.
 

David Baxter

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Overview of Hyperhidrosis Treatments

Overview of Hyperhidrosis Treatments

If you suffer from excessive sweating, you may feel like you?ve tried everything. You may have lost hope. Even if you feel this way, please take some time to read through the information on these pages about all the current treatments available for treating hyperhidrosis. We think the things you learn will ignite your optimism.

Some traditional treatments, like antiperspirants and iontophoresis, have been improved and we now know how to make them more effective. New treatments, like Botox injections, have started giving relief to those who never thought they?d find it. Physicians and their patients are also experimenting with combinations of treatments and getting good results.

Due to side effects, oral medications are not recommended as a long-term solution. Similarly, surgical options, although heavily advertised, are reserved for only certain severe cases of hyperhidrosis that have not responded to any of the other treatment options. Before considering surgical treatment, physicians and their patients must fully consider and discuss the very real risks of permanent damage and severe side effects.

For an at-a-glance overview of current hyperhidrosis treatments and the parts of the body they may be used to treat, use the chart below :acrobat:.

Everyone?s experience with this condition is different. So please be patient, explore all your options, explore combinations of your options, and work with your doctor to find the best treatments for your individual situation. Keep in mind, also, that research is still being conducted and new treatments, and new ways of using the current treatments, are being worked on. Subscribe to our e-newsletter, SweatSolutions, and you?ll be among the first to know about the latest developments.
 

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