CalmClinic writes in Anxiety and the Connection to Body Odor:

One of the main problems with the physical symptoms of anxiety is that many of them cause further anxiety. That's why so many people with anxiety struggle to cure it on their own - because their symptoms create even more anxiety than they had without it.

A great example of this is the way anxiety can affect body odor. It doesn't happen to everyone, but some people find that their body odor appears to significantly change when they have anxiety, to a degree that they become more anxious in social situations.

Is there published evidence that anxious people having more unconfortable body odor?


1 Answer 1


Yes, it's possible.

Generalized anxiety disorder can make you sweat more:

Physical symptoms of GAD

  • GAD can also have a number of physical symptoms, including:
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • a noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • muscle aches and tension
  • trembling or shaking
  • dry mouth
  • excessive sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • stomach ache
  • feeling sick
  • headache
  • pins and needles
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia)

Generalised anxiety disorder in adults - Symptoms

In particular, apocrine glands are involved in nervous sweating as they are sensitive to adrenaline. They secrete a milky fluid which can become odorous when mixed with skin living bacteria.

For most mammals, however, apocrine sweat glands secrete an oily (and eventually smelly) compound that acts as a pheromone, territorial marker, and warning signal. Being sensitive to adrenaline, apocrine sweat glands are involved in emotional sweating in humans (induced by anxiety, stress, fear, sexual stimulation, and pain).

Apocrine sweat gland

A more reliable resource says

Emotional sweating is a physical reaction to emotive stimuli like stress, anxiety, fear and pain that can occur over the whole body surface, but is most evident on palms, soles and in the axillary region


Apocrine sweat glands respond to emotional stimuli such as anxiety, pain or sexual arousal. Apocrine secretion takes place as apical budding off from the luminal cells and is under adrenergic control, via adrenaline and noradrenaline


The fluid secreted by the apocrine sweat gland is an oily, odourless substance, containing proteins, lipids and steroids.


Recently, it was shown that two apocrine proteins, referred to as apocrine secretion odour-binding proteins 1 and 2 (ASOB1 and ASOB2) function as carrier proteins for volatile odour molecules, e.g. (E)-3-methyl-2- hexenoic acid, which are linked as amino acid conjugates and are subsequently released by bacterial enzymes. ASOB2 was shown to be identical with the lipocalin apolipoprotein D. ASOB1 shares homology to the a-chain of apolipoprotein J. As in other species, lipocalins serve as carrier proteins for pheromones; an analogous function has been suggested for ASOB1/2.


Moreover, several odoriferous sulfanylalkanols were identified as axillary odour components, that are presumably released from cysteine conjugates. A respective cystathione-b-lyase has been cloned from an axillary

A short history of sweat gland biology

  • well, but does the anxiety causes your sweat to smell different from sweating for other reasons? The article doesn't really mention that.
    – jwenting
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 12:23

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