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Anxiety and Peeing Problems

Micah Abraham, BSc
Anxiety and Peeing Problems

Anxiety is an upsetting issue that often creates symptoms that contribute to further anxiety. There are many instances of anxiety that themselves cause so much distress that they end up leading to a considerable amount of anxiety in the future. It's this self-sustaining nature of anxiety that makes it so hard to treat.

Peeing problems are an unfortunate example of these type of symptom. Many people experience strange urination issues from anxiety, and since peeing problems are often linked to serious health issues, it ends up creating more anxiety.

Extreme Anxiety and Peeing

Peeing issues are not the type of symptom that most people think of when they have problems with anxiety. That is likely the reason that something as simple as urination can cause such anxiety on its own. But anxiety really does cause peeing problems, and these problems may be similar to the health conditions that you worry about.

The biggest worry that people have and the one that causes the most distress is the inability to hold one's bladder after extreme fear. This reaction is not that common, and it requires absolute terror to overwhelm the brain.

The reason this occurs is because the brain can only handle so many processes at any given time. Anxiety is the activation of the fight or flight response, which is a system your body uses to stay safe from harm.

There's no evolutionary reason to care about urinating (since early man wouldn't have experienced shame), so when you're under extreme fear, your body essentially turns off the part of your brain responsible for keeping urine in your bladder, because it's considered less important than the parts of your brain necessary for fighting or running away.

This tends to only occur when the body experiences profound fear, such as the reaction to a phobia, car accident, etc. But it is possible with panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder, since these can induce some powerful anxiety responses.

Frequent Peeing From Anxiety

A much more common anxiety symptom is frequent urination. Frequent urination causes people to fear for the worst, worried that they have prostate cancer, diabetes, or other issues related to peeing often. While only a doctor can diagnose you, it's uncommon to have these conditions without risk factors. Frequent peeing from anxiety, however, is much more common.

Why this occurs is not entirely clear. Some of the theories include:

These are just some of the reasons that anxiety may lead to a need to urinate more often, and chances are they all play some role in one way or another.

Shy Bladder Syndrome

Finally, there is a type of social anxiety marked by an inability to pee in front of others. This is known as parauresis, also called "shy bladder syndrome." It's a term to describe those who simply cannot urinate when there is a feeling as though others are watching.

It often starts during childhood but can develop as an adult. This type of social fear can be so extreme that some people cannot even urinate if someone is in the same building.

In a way, this is its own separate anxiety, rather than necessarily being a symptom of anxiety. But it's a peeing problem nonetheless and can cause significant disruption in a person's life.

Controlling the Peeing Problems From Anxiety

If you've been having peeing problems as a result of your anxiety, the best way to cure it is to reduce your anxiety. Drinking less water is unlikely to work, and may actually make your anxiety issues worse since dehydration can cause anxiety on its own.

It's very important that you don't assume your urination issues are the result of something serious, like diabetes, which is perhaps one of the most common fears people have when they have anxiety. First, diabetes usually takes years to develop. Second, it's easy to test, so if you're truly concerned you can get a quick blood test and have your blood sugar measured immediately. Diabetes is always a health problem worth paying attention to, but assuming your urination issues are the result of undiagnosed diabetes is only going to make your anxiety worse.

If you find yourself feeling as though you need to urinate all the time, the best thing you can do is simply learn to relax. Getting up and walking around can be a big help. Often sitting actually creates more urine anyway, so you'll find yourself needing to pee all the time especially when you stand up. There are also several relaxation strategies that can be very helpful, such as:

These types of relaxation exercises should improve your anxiety a bit, which ultimately should decrease that need to urinate. But you'll still need to work on your anxiety in general if you truly want to make a significant difference in your symptoms.

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