Why Do You Sweat When You're Nervous?

Sweating occurs during moments of nervousness due to the mind's perception of impending danger.
Over-stimulated nerves can cause excessive sweating.
An antiperspirant can help reduce sweating.
A diagram of the human skin, including sweat glands.
Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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It is not unusual for people to experience sweating in moments that bring about a degree of anxiety. The sweat may begin to pour when preparing to deliver a speech or face an audience in any manner, or come about due to being anxious during a job interview. Sweating is a perfectly natural reaction to any situation that causes distress. Here is why you sweat when you’re nervous.

There are actually two distinct sets of nerves that send signals that trigger activity in the sweat glands. The sympathetic nerves carry neurotransmitters that stimulate the production of sweat. Parasympathetic nerves carry different neurotransmitters that signal the glands to cease and desist in the production of sweat.

Many different situations trigger the activity of the sympathetic nerves. Exercise, a warm climate, high humidity, and even foods loaded with extra spices may cause the nerves to send signals to the gland to begin producing fluid. This is an attempt to restore the body to what is perceived as a normal or resting state.

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Of particular note is that the sympathetic nerves are also triggered when an individual becomes nervous for any reason. This is a part of the body’s unconscious protection process, known as the fight or flight response. You sweat when you’re nervous because your body perceives you may have to begin moving quickly. The sweat is present to lubricate areas where skin will brush against skin, and also to cool the overall shell of the body so you do not overheat during the activity.

In short, you sweat when you’re nervous because your subconscious mind perceives an impending danger of some type and reacts to prepare your body for the battle that is about to begin. This process may activate due to a real or a perceived threat. That is why people who experience anxiety disorders or panic attacks often begin to sweat just as readily as someone who finds himself face to face with an armed robber.

Sweating in response to nerves is very common. Many people experience an outbreak of sweating when stepping onto a stage or leading a presentation in a conference room. Other people begin to sweat in social situations, such as asking for or going on a first date. People who are recovering from medical conditions that involve over-stimulated nerves will also experience more sweating activity while nervous systems heal. Just accept the fact that you will sweat when you’re nervous and that it will pass as you begin to become accustomed to the setting and your subconscious mind no longer perceives the situation as a threat.

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Discuss this Article

anon146751
Post 3

Love Wisegeek! Anyway Certain Dri - try it. It's 5 bucks at most drugstores. Follow the instructions to the letter. It saved my shirts and my pride.

anon133438
Post 2

I don't know, but this happens to me as well and I would love an answer.

anon41889
Post 1

I begin to sweat excessively when someone pokes me or makes a laugh of me in center of everyone. i don't feel embarrassed but due to sweat i feel embarrassed. can anyone help me? why is this so?

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