Can emotional stress cause overactive bladder?
Mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, are common among people with overactive bladder (OAB). Frequent urination and the risk of bladder leaks can be stressful for some individuals.
6 tips for easing stress and anxiety from overactive bladder
Research suggests that almost one-half Trusted Source of people with OAB experience symptoms of anxiety, with nearly one-quarter having moderate-to-severe anxiety. Those who experience anxiety as a result of OAB also have higher levels of stress and depression than those who do not.
It is important to note that OAB-associated stress is different than stress incontinence, which occurs as a result of an activity stressor, such as coughing or laughing.
Do anxiety and depression cause frequent urination?
Stress, anxiety, and depression may actually contribute to OAB and urinary incontinence. In a study involving more than 16,000 women in Norway, having anxiety or depression symptoms at baseline was associated with a 1.5- to two-fold Trusted Source increase in the risk of developing urinary incontinence.
Although researchers and medical professionals are not exactly sure why anxiety may cause frequent urination, there are two main theories.
The first is that stress creates the so-called fight-or-flight response that increases the sensitivity of the nervous system. Everyone experiences this in response to stress, but in people with OAB, basic reflexes such as bladder voiding can become stimulated more easily.
People with OAB may worry about having symptoms, especially in social situations, and this can set off their fight-or-flight response. This response can then lead to OAB symptoms, creating a cycle in which the more symptoms a person has, the more anxious they feel.
The second theory is that anxiety and stress can cause muscle tension, which can affect the muscles of the bladder and increase the urge to urinate.
Anxiety and depression are also associated with nocturia, which is the term for frequently waking during sleep to go to the bathroom. Some professionals believe Trusted Source that this is actually due to sleeping problems, which are common in people with anxiety and depression. They suggest that these individuals are going to the bathroom more often simply because they spend more time awake.