Bladder and urinary problems are exceedingly common, with overactive bladder or OAB affecting an estimated 23% of the US population. Unfortunately, most of us tend to ignore these problems as we regard them as nothing more than a source of discomfort and embarrassment. To connect bladder and urinary disorders with an increased risk of mental illness would seem like a stretch to most of us, but that’s precisely what we’re learning from research. Urinary disorders can start to affect every aspect of your wellbeing, adversely impacting productivity and putting a dent in your social life. This results in reduced quality of life and also makes you more susceptible to mental health illnesses.
How Urination Difficulties Affect our Mental Health
Increases Stress Levels
People with urinary incontinence and other urination difficulties have a significantly poorer quality of life as compared to individuals who do not suffer from such issues. High levels of psychological stress is one of the main reasons for their reduced quality of life. Even though urination difficulties are a common problem, people (especially women) experience feelings of stigma and humiliation which increases their stress levels. Studies show that certain types of urinary problems such as urge incontinence or overactive bladder have higher stress levels compared to those with stress incontinence which is associated with coughing or sneezing.
Increases the Severity of Anxiety Symptoms
Researchers found that male and female OAB (overactive bladder) patients who have more severe symptoms such as urgency, urinary incontinence and nocturia had higher levels of anxiety as compared to patients with minimal or no symptoms. These patients also had low levels of health-related quality of life as well as low work productivity. Anxiety causes your muscles to tense up which puts pressure on your bladder and makes you urinate more often. Practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction exercises reduces symptoms and helps improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from stress incontinence.
Increases the Risk of Depression
People with urinary incontinence and other urinary difficulties are at a higher risk of suffering from depression. People who suffer from urinary difficulties are also more likely to have disturbed sleep or insomnia which can contribute to depression. If you have urinary difficulties and notice that you have a constant feeling of sadness and you have your lost interest in regular activities, you should visit a psychiatrist for a definite diagnosis and treatment. A recent study concluded that amelioration of bladder and urinary difficulties can help to reduce depression incidence in patients with urinary problems.
Damages Self Esteem and Self Worth
People who experience urination difficulties often spend their days constantly toilet-centered in their thoughts. The fear of not having quick and easy access to a toilet can limit a person’s activities as they hesitate to go out with friends or even go to church. We are taught bladder control at a young age which is why problems like incontinence lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment which can severely damage our self-esteem and self-worth. Coping strategies can help to reduce the feeling of dread and negative self-talk and improve your self-worth and increase your confidence.
Contributes to Sleep Disorders
Bladder and urination difficulties will make it difficult for you to sleep through the night and reduce your sleep quality and duration. This can result in a range of sleep disorders including insomnia and sleep apnea which in turn increase the risk of stress, anxiety and depression. Simple lifestyle modifications such as following a regular sleep routine, not drinking fluids for a couple of hours before bedtime and indulging in a relaxing pre-sleep activity such as meditation or a warm bath will help to reduce your risk of developing a sleep disorder.
Coping Strategies to deal with Bladder and Urination Difficulties
Coping strategies can help you deal with bladder and urination difficulties in a calm and collected manner. Coping strategies can be divided into two categories – strategies that help you deal with “accidents” and strategies that help you cope with the psychological effects of urination difficulties. When you go to a new place, find out the route to the closest toilet and carry extra clothing in case it’s required. You can also carry as a high quality absorbent product that is suited to the level of incontinence you experience. You should also engage in positive self-talk to help reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Daily meditation is a common coping strategy and will help you steer clear of negative thoughts and emotions.
Bladder and urination difficulties can affect men and women though women are more likely to experience certain problems such as stress incontinence. Incontinency is also a common problem during and after pregnancy. According to the experts at What To Expect, you can slowly train your bladder in order to extend the time between bathroom trips. Pelvic floor therapy is an excellent treatment modality for men and women suffering from urination issues. Pelvic floor therapy employs a variety of exercises and techniques to strengthen pelvic muscles that are weak, tight or spastic. This form of treatment is especially effective in treating problems such as incontinence and frequent urination. Therapists also develop individualized home exercise programs for their patients to ensure that the problem does not recur. Never ignore urination difficulties as they could indicate a more serious underlying health issue. Using a bladder diary to keep a track of your bathroom habits can help your doctor pinpoint the root cause of the problem.
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