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Compr Psychiatry. 2012 Nov;53(8):1181-6. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2012.04.009. Epub 2012 Jun 7.

Social anxiety and functional impairment in patients seeking surgical evaluation for hyperhidrosis.

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Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Primary hyperhidrosis is characterized by excessive sweating and often accompanied by social avoidance. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by fear and avoidance of social situations, often partly related to fears of showing signs of excessive autonomic nervous system activation, such as sweating. To clarify the relationship of hyperhidrosis and SAD, this study assessed severity of sweating, overall social anxiety and social anxiety due to sweating, and disability in 2 groups: patients seeking surgical treatment for hyperhidrosis (n = 40) and patients seeking treatment for SAD (n = 64). Hyperhidrosis and SAD patients overlapped in severity of overall social anxiety and social anxiety related to sweating. Hyperhidrosis patients reported elevated levels of social anxiety, with mean severity near the threshold for the generalized subtype of SAD, but significantly lower social anxiety than in the SAD patients. Significantly more hyperhidrosis patients than SAD patients attributed most of their social anxiety to sweating (76% vs 20%). Among hyperhidrosis patients, the pattern of correlations of sweating, social anxiety, and disability was consistent with a model of social anxiety as a mediator of sweating-related disability. The overlap of symptoms in patients presenting for treatment of SAD or hyperhidrosis suggests that both social anxiety and sweating should be assessed in these patients and considered as potential targets of treatment.

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