• Sydni Rubio-Weiss

Get a whiff of this: antidepressants and ADHD meds might make you sweat... A LOT

I'm going to assume that you're here for one of two reasons:

  1. You are currently taking ADHD medication and/or antidepressants

  2. You are about to start one or both of these medications (or you're about to start the process of getting a diagnosis and treatment)

But I'm sure the MAIN reason you're here is because you heard that these medications can cause excessive sweating and (not-so-pleasant) body odor. Keep reading if you want to know why our bodies react this way.


Why do we sweat?

Let's start with the basics: why we even sweat in the first place. Sweating mainly serves the purpose of thermoregulation. (In other words, it helps us cool down if we get too hot.) It's also been speculated that sweat may serve as a garbage disposal, if you will, to get rid of the waste floating around in your body. However, this idea of sweat being an excretory mechanism hasn't been confirmed by scientists yet.

Sweat is produced by sweat glands, and there are three types of these glands all over your body:

  1. Eccrine Glands

  2. Apocrine Glands

  3. Apoeccrine Glands

Eccrine Glands

These are the most common glands in the human body - we literally have millions of them everywhere on our skin. The sweat produced from eccrine glands is made up of water and sodium (NaCl), so these are not the glands that lead to body odor. The eccrine glands in the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet ("glabrous glands") respond to both temperature and emotions, such as stress and anxiety. (This is why your hands get sweaty when you have to give a speech.) The eccrine glands everywhere else ("non-glabrous glands"; those associated with hair) mainly just respond to temperature/heat.

Since the eccrine glands are literally everywhere, it's safe to assume that larger people have more eccrine glands. However, it's important to note that more sweat glands do NOT mean more sweat. How much a person sweats is dependent on sweat secretion rate per gland, not on how many glands they actually have.


Apocrine Glands

These glands are limited to only a few places on your body:

  1. Armpits

  2. Chest/Breasts

  3. Face/Scalp

  4. Groin

Apocrine glands are larger than the eccrine glands and are inactive until you hit puberty. (This explains why "Santa" started leaving deodorant in my stocking once I got to Middle School.) Apocrine glands also release sweat to a different "location" than the eccrine glands. While the eccrine glands deposit the sweat directly onto the surface of your skin, the apocrine glands are releasing the sweat into your hair follicle. The thick sweat made from an apocrine gland is made of proteins, lipids (fats), ammonia, and sugars. You may have guessed that these glands are the ones associated with body odor. If you did, you would be correct.


Apoeccrine Glands