Anxiety can be a self-sustaining mental health problem. Often the signs and symptoms of anxiety lead to feelings of stress or fear, which in turn leads to further anxiety. This loop is one of the main reasons treating anxiety requires such a commitment, otherwise it will keep cycling and possibly get much worse.
One sign of anxiety that causes a great deal of stress is urination. Frequent urination can be a sign of a more serious health issue, like diabetes, but it may also be caused by intense anxiety.
Is Anxiety Causing Pee Problems?
That need to urinate is one of the strangest anxiety symptoms, and in some cases incontinence or a feeling of excessive urination may be a sign of something more serious, like diabetes. It's something you may want to get checked out, but it may also be just another sign of anxiety.
Take our free 7 minute anxiety test to see if your symptoms indicate it may be anxiety, what your anxiety score is, and how it compares to others.
Fear and Urination
There are two types of anxiety urination. There is instant urination that genuinely occurs during moments of complete terror, and there is frequent urination, which is the sensation of needing to urinate often without necessarily drinking excess water/liquid.
All types of anxiety can have an effect on urination. Have you taken the 7 minute anxiety test yet? If not, do it now, since it will give you an idea of what level and type of anxiety you're suffering from.
Causes of Immediate Urination From Anxiety
Immediate urination is a common symptom of severe phobias or fears. If someone points a gun at you, for example, it's not uncommon to urinate as a reaction to the fear.
This is essentially caused by an overloaded nervous system. Your body goes into fight or flight mode, and it needs to prepare so many different things at once that it can't handle them all, and the area of your brain that controls urination essentially shuts off.
Causes of Frequent Anxiety Urination
There are several beliefs for what causes frequent urination from anxiety, and the likelihood is that all of these factors play a role:
- Muscle Tension This is one of the most likely causes of frequent urination. When you have anxiety, your muscles get very tense. This tension puts pressure on your bladder, which in turn makes you feel like you need to urinate more than you would otherwise.
- Evolutionary Adaptation Another theory is that there is an evolutionary reason that frequent urination would be advantageous. Remember, anxiety is the misfiring of your healthy fight/flight system. In times of fear, urination may keep the body lighter by losing extra weight, making it easier to flee.
- Light Overload It's also possible that, because anxiety is a misfiring of the fight/flight system, your body may simply be lightly overloaded. The fear is not intense enough to cause immediate urination, but it may make it harder for you to feel like you can hold it back.
Also, those with anxiety are more prone to focusing on different sensations unintentionally. There are often times when you may feel the need to urinate slightly but your body has no problem ignoring the feeling and holding it back. With anxiety, it's possible that your brain is focused on the sensation, potentially causing you to feel like you need to urinate more than you do.
Finally, anxiety can also change your body chemistry, altering your digestion and changing the way you process nutrients. That may cause more water to pass through your body.
Frequent Urination From Anxiety is Not Diabetes
If you haven't been to a doctor in years, it's always a good idea to have yourself checked out. But if you've been to the doctor and your blood sugar levels are normal, then you don't have to worry - diabetes doesn't develop overnight.
Many people with anxiety fear the worst, which means they fear diabetes - a common and frightening cause of frequent urination. But diabetes urination is different. It doesn't usually develop overnight, and the frequent urination comes all throughout the day - even multiple times at night.
While it's helpful to go to the doctor once a year, the chances of developing severe diabetes with urination problems after having healthy levels of blood sugar is very small, if it's possible at all. Anxiety is much more likely.
Thoughts on Anxiety and Urination
Urination from anxiety isn't something that you simply cure on its own. Drinking less water can only cause dehydration, which may lead to more anxiety.
Avoiding foods and drinks that may increase urination, like coffee and alcohol, can be helpful. It won't make a huge difference, but diuretics do increase urination which will make water pass through your body more quickly.
You should also try to relax your muscles, especially your abdominal muscles. Try an exercise known as "Progressive Muscle Relaxation." It involves the following:
- Stand up straight and balanced against both legs.
- Tense the muscle in your right foot as hard as you can for 10 seconds.
- Release your muscle.
- Tense the muscle in your left foot as hard as you can for 10 seconds.
- Release your muscle.
- Continue with each muscle in your body, one at a time, until you've tensed your face muscles.
This tires your muscles out so that they relax, and should decrease the pressure on your body. Then you can start working on your anxiety in general.
Any time someone suffers from frequent anxiety urination, I tell them to start by taking my 7 minute anxiety test. It's a free test I developed to give you a rundown of your anxiety symptoms and compare them against the rest of the anxiety population. From there, you'll be able to start looking for the best treatment.
If you haven't yet, take the test here.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.