Can Incontinence Cause Depression?
Bladder problems and faecal incontinence can be difficult to cope with and can completely alter your life and day-to-day activities. Sneezing, coughing, laughing, running, and jumping are just some examples of activities that can worry someone with incontinence. That all too common moment of panic when your bladder or bowel leaks are bound to affect your mood and mental well-being. In this blog, we will explore just how much incontinence or bladder issues can affect your mental health.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the uncontrolled leakage of urine and can affect anyone at any age, but according to studies women are more likely to suffer from incontinence than men. There are 4 main types of incontinence:
- Stress Incontinence – Usually caused by a weak pelvic floor or childbirth
- Urge Incontinence – Caused by an overactive bladder, causing an urgent need to urinate, this often occurs at night.
- Overflow incontinence – When the bladder is not emptying properly
- Functional incontinence – Caused by a mental/physical block (Such as anxiety, dementia, arthritis, cerebral palsy, alcohol, etc.)
It’s important to note that you can have more than one type of urinary incontinence.
What is faecal incontinence?
Faecal (or Fecal) incontinence is an inability to control bowel movements, resulting in the involuntary passage of stools. It is also sometimes known as bowel incontinence. (2) It can affect anyone of any age but is more common in the elderly. There are 2 different types of faecal incontinence. The different types include:
Urge Faecal -the sudden urge to go to the toilet and experiencing incontinence because you don’t make it on time.
Passive Incontinence – having no feeling or sensation that you are passing a stool or passing a small stool when passing wind.
What causes faecal incontinence?
There are many contributing factors that can lead to faecal incontinence, it is not a condition itself but a symptom of underlying problem or condition. Faecal incontinence is usually triggered by a physical issue with certain parts of the body. Some factors that can increase the risk of faecal incontinence include:
Damage to the anal sphincter muscles – damage to the external muscle can result in urge faecal incontinence and damage to the internal muscle can result in passive faecal incontinence.
Constipation – this can weaken and stretch the rectum muscles.
Medical conditions – pelvic organ prolapse, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s are just some of the conditions that can result in faecal incontinence.
How can incontinence affect you emotionally?
Emotional effects of incontinence are not unheard of, the embarrassment, frustration, and upset you may experience when suffering from incontinence can have a knock-on effect on your emotional well-being. A lot of people who suffer from incontinence feel embarrassed and don't often speak about the issue openly this can lead to a lot of upset as they may begin to feel very alone with the issue unaware that there is help out there. The frustration incontinence can cause stems from the effects it can have on your lifestyle, simple activities such as running and exercise can be brought to a halt due to unwanted leakage when carrying out these things. So all in all your emotional well-being can be damaged significantly due to incontinence.
Did you know that if a woman develops incontinence after giving birth her chances of getting post natal depression increases by 50%?
Emotional symptoms of urinary and faecal incontinence:
There are several symptoms of the emotional aspect of incontinence. Some include:
- Humiliation/ stigma
- Lowered self-esteem
- Social withdrawal
- Anxiety-related to incontinence in public
- Reduced intimacy
Can incontinence lead to depression?
As mentioned previously, incontinence can have a huge impact on someone's mental well-being, they carry a feeling of shame and embarrassment, as well as the physical changes to their lives. Most people completely hide their incontinence issues without talking to anyone for years never mind discussing it with a doctor. They hide away from social situations in fear they will have an accident. They stop doing activities that they once did and slowly become more isolated and reserved. Naturally, this could very well lead to anxiety and depression, according to one study, women with severe urinary incontinence had an 80% greater possibility of presenting deep depression while women with mild incontinence had a 40% greater possibility of presenting depression. (1)
Treatment for urinary and faecal incontinence
Depending on the type and severity of the incontinence there are things you can do to help relieve the symptoms of incontinence. There may be cases where you need to see your GP. Some changes you can make to improve symptoms include:
- Avoid certain foods & drinks (alcohol, any caffeine, foods, or drinks with high acid content)
- Diet changes to reduce constipation
- Learn to increase the time in-between toilet breaks
- Manage fluid intake
- Avoid smoking
- KEGELS – Yes, work that pelvic floor and strengthen those pelvic floor muscles
If you feel your pelvic floor muscles have become weak and are causing you stress incontinence then it’s not too late to do something about it. Our Kegel Kit is the perfect starting point for anyone looking to strengthen their pelvic floor, so many women have reported a huge improvement to their incontinence symptoms after using our 6 step Kegel program alongside the Kegel Kit weights. Shop the Kegel Kit here: Pelvic Floor Toner For Women. As Heard on the Chris Evans Show – SecretWhispers™
If incontinence is starting to lower the quality of your life or affect your mental well-being, please do not feel alone. Contact your GP to find the correct support and treatment.