Is Stress Contributing To Your Incontinence?

Is Stress Contributing To Your Incontinence?

As you may already know, incontinence is really common. Approximately 15 million American women deal with urinary incontinence. And about 24% of women over 40 have experienced fecal incontinence at least once in the past year, too.

But, just because incontinence is common doesn’t take away the embarrassment. The sheer thought of an unexpected leak is stressful. Plus, research shows that stress and incontinence are closely intertwined. But do stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues cause incontinence? Or does incontinence negatively impact our mental health? With 1 in 5 American adults, or 43.8 million people, experiencing mental health issues every year, you just might want to stick around to find out.

The Impact of Stress on the Bladder

Have you ever said “I’m so scared, I might pee myself?” Well, it turns out there’s real science behind that expression. When you’re really afraid or anxious, your body goes into fight or flight mode. And it’s thought that the adrenaline pumping through you triggers your need to pee.

So, there’s definitely a link between what’s going on in your brain (fear, anxiety, etc) and what might be coming out of your bladder. Anxiety and stress can cause you to urinate more frequently, too.

The Impact of Stress on the GI Tract

If you haven’t heard the phrase “I was so scared, I almost peed myself,” maybe you have heard “I was so scared, I almost pooped myself.” Your ability to hold in urine and feces is controlled by the same muscles so it makes sense that they’d behave the same way under stress. It’s true that stress and anxiety can cause diarrhea so we know that our bowels are impacted by stress.

Looking at studies of IBS patients, too, the connection between bowel health and mental health is clear. About 60% of IBS patients have generalized anxiety disorder. Another 20% have depression. That’s a pretty significant overlap.

Incontinence and Mental Health

So, back to the chicken and egg question. Both anxiety and depression have been found in many patients with incontinence. But was the incontinence caused by the mental health problems or did the mental health problems cause the incontinence?

It turns out it’s a two way street when it comes to anxiety and urinary incontinence. Anxiety and incontinence interact and exacerbate each other. And, anxiety is a risk factor for developing incontinence.

The same appears to be true with other mental health issues, like depression, which is also a risk factor for developing incontinence. Several studies have linked depression to urinary incontinence in women especially. And, people with pelvic floor disorders (incontinence is one type of pelvic floor disorder) are three times more likely to experience depression than the general population.

Anxiety even rears its head when you start talking about overactive bladder.  According to one study, 48% of patients with overactive bladder exhibit anxiety symptoms. Plus, according to the same study, about 24% of OAB patients have moderate to severe anxiety.

While anxiety and incontinence don’t have to go together, it’s easy to see how incontinence can cause anxiety -- maybe even more anxiety than you started with.

What You Can Do

It’s easy for someone on the outside to say just don’t worry, right? However, this is definitely one of those things that’s easier said than done. If you have significant anxiety or depression, please give your doctor a call. For the more common daily stressors in all of our lives, there are things you can do to help you worry less and hopefully decrease leaks too.

One option is to use absorbent products, so that the only person that knows you leaked is you. NAFC recently conducted a study that found that those who felt positively about wearing absorbent products said it was because it made them feel more protected and in control. And who doesn’t want to feel more in control? Plus, Lily Bird can help take the stress out of going to the store by delivering pads and disposable underwear straight to your door.

Don’t forget about trying pilates to doing Kegels or making dietary changes to see if that helps with incontinence or stress, too. Whether your stress is a symptom or a cause, getting it under control can help no matter what situation you’re in.

~Written by Lily Bird, a proud Trusted Partner of NAFC

About Lily Bird

Lily Bird

Lily Bird is for all of us women with leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas. We squeeze when we sneeze and drip when we jump. And we think it's high time we stop saying sorry for the spritz.

If you’re ready to tell your bladder who’s boss, Lily Bird has you covered with pads and underwear for leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas delivered right to your door. Start your free trial today.


5 Ways To Calm Yourself When You Start To Feel Overwhelmed

5 Ways To Calm Yourself When You Feel Overwhelmed

In today’s world, it seems that everyone is stressed out. And what’s more, many people wear it as a badge of honor. Being “so busy” makes us feel productive and in charge. And everyone else is the same, so why should we feel any different?

But stress has a lot of negative effects that can build up over time. It affects not only your mood and behavior, but it can lead to real medical issues if left untreated. 

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, here are 5 ways to take some of the pressure off when it all starts to feel a bit too much.

  

Five Ways To Calm Yourself Down

Be More Mindful.

Yes, mindfulness is all the rage these days, but for good reason. Mindfulness has a host of health benefits, but among other things, it can help you control stress.  When you practice mindfulness, you’re removing yourself from thinking about a stressful situation, reminding yourself to be grateful for the good things happening in your life, and shifts your perspective so that you can see things more clearly. All this works to calm your body and mind down and reduce stress.

Deep Breathing. 

Sometimes, the simple act of taking some time to breathe deeply can make a huge difference? Why? It cues your body to slow down and relax. Taking deep belly breaths can help ease stress and anxiety, slow your heartbeat and stabilize your blood pressure. Its also that mindfulness trick again. Focusing on your breath helps to ground you and bring your attention to one thing, giving your mind a break and your body a chance to recoup.  It’s easy to do, and you don’t have to do it for very long to reap the benefits.  Just find a quiet spot, and slowly breathe in deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to expand. Then slowly let the air pass back through your nose as you exhale. Even a few minutes can be helpful in a pinch, but regular practice of this (daily for 10-20 minutes) can do wonders.

 

Periodic Breaks.

Taking breaks not only help calm you down when you’re stressed, they can help make you more productive. When we work non-stop without taking a break, we’re pushing our brain to the limit, naturally tiring it out after a while, just like any other muscle in the body. But evidence suggests that taking periodic breaks helps to recharge our brain and become more focused. Taking a break may seem counter-productive to getting things done, but you’ll help yourself out in the long run by grabbing a glass of water or a healthy snack each hour, and you’ll feel much more relaxed and productive. It’s a win-win!

Call A Friend.

Studies show that those with a strong social network tend to live longer than those without one. That’s because our friends help build us up, give us a sense of belonging, and help us deal with difficult situations. We don’t always have to go it alone, so when you’re feeling like you’re about to snap, pick up the phone and chat it up with someone who you know has your back. It’s a great stress reliever.

Get Moving.

Regular exercise can do wonder for keeping your stress levels low, but even if you haven’t seen the inside of a gym in a while, taking a 5-10 minute brisk walk when you’re extra stressed can make a big difference. You’ll remove yourself from your stressful situation of the moment, get some fresh air, and release powerful stress-fighting endorphins. 

Above everything, remember that fighting stress is important to remain healthy and productive.  If you feel yourself starting to get overwhelmed, practice one or more of the five tips above.

3 Ways To Beat Stress This Holiday Season

3 Ways To Beat Holiday Stress

Studies have shown that people with incontinence are prone to have more anxiety – not too surprising considering the constant worry of making it to the restroom on time.  But add in the holidays, and the stress can take on a whole new level. 

Here are 3 tips to reduce your stress so that you’re actually able to enjoy the holiday season.

  1. Take on only what you think you can accomplish.  Baking that extra batch of cookies for the church bake sale. Volunteering in your child’s school activity. Hosting out of town guests. These are all good things. But taking on too much at once can really raise your stress levels. Think about what you realistically have time for, then prioritize the things that are the most important to you. 
  2. Take time for yourself.  Go for a walk or run. Set aside some time to read a book. Relax and wrap gifts with your kids while listening to holiday music. Taking a break from your normal routine will give you the time to reflect on the season, and put you in a better, more relaxed mood.
  3. Keep a schedule. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you should ignore your own personal needs. Make sure to go to bed at your normal hour. Try to eat as healthfully as you can. Get regular exercise.  Limit your alcohol intake. Taking care of yourself will help put you in the best mindset to deal with stressfulsituations that may come up during the holidays.

Have a great stress-fighting tips for this time of year? Share it in the comments below!

Being Intimate When You Have Incontinence

Being Intimate When You Have Incontinence

Being intimate when you manage bowel or bladder incontinence can be stress inducing. Most of us have problems talking about sex at all, and talking about problems in the bedroom is just about impossible.

It might be an uncomfortable conversation to have with your partner, but talking about what you’re dealing with is the best way to gain the support and understanding needed to get back to enjoying your sex life again.

The causes of incontinence can vary based on your particular condition so the stress of even bringing it up or the physical demands of having sex can cause exacerbate your intimacy.

Our best advice so you can enjoy intimate time with the one you love is being open and honest, and asking your doctor for suggestions and best practices.

If you need to see a specialist and are struggling to find one who meets your needs, use our directory.