Emotional Effects of Incontinence

Depressed Man

Incontinence is a difficult medical condition. Unlike other ailments, sufferers usually do not feel comfortable discussing their incontinence. They often go to great lengths to hide it, and worry constantly about embarrassing leaks or being stuck somewhere without a restroom. This leads to sufferers avoiding social events, trips, and eventually becoming reclusive.

Unfortunately, the emotional toll of incontinence is huge. What’s worse is that it’s not being talked about. We are here to raise awareness, and let people know that they are not alone. Overactive bladder, bladder incontinence, and bowel incontinence can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression. Overall, incontinence in all forms can lead to a lower quality of life and little-discussed emotional side effects.

The Connection: Depression and Incontinence

The link between incontinence and depressive symptoms has been proven. Incontinence can also contribute to anxiety. Other possible connected symptoms and feelings include stress and loneliness. Overall, this is not great news for people with incontinence.


Proof in the Studies

According to the World Journal of Urology, urologic literature suggests that there is an association between a variety of psychiatric disorders and incontinence. Most notably, depression is found in a significant percentage of patients with urinary incontinence. Depression also occurs in other conditions associated with urinary urge incontinence, such as aging and dementia, and in neurologic disorders.”

Another study in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women with mild to severe urinary incontinence were more likely to have depression. This study recommended that women being treated for incontinence should also be screened for depression, and offered treatment for depression as well.

People with urinary incontinence, as well as bowel incontinence are at risk for depression from their condition and this is not a new phenomenon. A study published in GUT (International Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology) from 1986 cautioned that, depression is common in gastrointestinal outpatients is not always appreciated and its symptoms should be sought in all patients with bowel dysfunction and chronic abdominal pain.

Physicians in the above studies are encouraging their peers in the medical community to ask about depression in patients with incontinence. Unfortunately, too many people are afraid to ask for help, or embarrassed to talk about their incontinence, even with their physician.


Talk It Out

There are online support groups and message boards that you can join. You may not want to tell your friends or broadcast it on social media, but consider telling those closest to you. It would help them to understand the emotional pain you are experiencing. At the very least, tell your doctor.

Remember, incontinence is treatable. There is no shame in asking for help, in fact it’s important to see a physician to rule out things like bladder cancer. Incontinence is also linked to other conditions like diabetes, and may occur in men who have been treated for prostate cancer.

If you are experiencing leaks, urges, or other bladder or bowel symptoms, contact us. Or call our discreet, dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-771-1953.

About The Incontinence Institute

At the Incontinence Institute, our team of healthcare providers understand the physical and mental trials that accompany living with urinary or bowel incontinence. Because of this, we are sensitive to your situation and treat all of our patients with the utmost respect and concern for discretion.

Individual incontinence conditions, treatment and recovery times may vary. Each patient's experience with incontinence procedures and / or surgery will differ. All surgical procedures involve some level of risk. If directed to pursue surgery by your physician, prompt action is advised, as waiting may reduce the efficacy of surgical treatment. The opinions expressed in patient testimonials are by patients only; they are not qualified medical professionals. These opinions should not be relied upon as, or in place of, the medical advice of a licensed doctor, etc.

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Incontinence Institute 2009 Mallory Lane, Suite 100 Franklin, Tennessee 37067