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 and trips, and eventually becoming reclusive.

Unfortunately, the emotional toll of incontinence is huge. What’s worse is that it is not being talked about. The care team at the Incontinence Institute is 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 between 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) in 1986 cautioned that suggesting 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 & Find Support

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. It is 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.