Tips for Easing Stress and Anxiety from Overactive Bladder
Dealing with OAB? You Aren’t Alone
According to the National Association for Continence, roughly 17 percent of women and 16 percent of men over the age of 18 have overactive bladder (OAB). It becomes even more common with age: one in five adults over the age of 40 is affected by it.
OAB causes a sudden urge to urinate. The urge is so strong it’s often difficult to control. Symptoms include frequent urination, loss of urine, and difficulty sleeping through the night. OAB can also create stress, anxiety, and embarrassment. Over time, patients may become more isolated and suffer a low self-esteem.
Click through the slideshow for tips on calming an overactive bladder.
The Unseen Troubles of OAB
If you suffer from overactive bladder, you may worry about having an accident while in public. You may feel like you can no longer travel, exercise, or enjoy the activities you once did. You also may feel less attractive and worry about how your condition will affect your sex life.
All of these worries can contribute to an overall feeling of stress and anxiety. Fortunately, you can take steps to manage your symptoms and your emotions so you can get back to being yourself.
Even if you’re embarrassed about your symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor. A number of treatments are available to help you regain control. Certain lifestyle modifications, like dietary changes, bladder training, and pelvic exercises, can limit the strong urge to go.
Medications also may be helpful. They work by blocking certain nerve impulses to help relax the bladder muscle, making it easier to resist urges. Your doctor can you determine the best treatment for you.
Consider Alternative Medicine
In addition to diet, exercise, and medication, you may benefit from certain alternative treatments. A study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology noted that symptoms in women who received four weekly bladder-specific acupuncture treatments improved significantly.
Specifically, they had a 14 percent reduction in urinary frequency and a 59 percent reduction in number of incontinent episodes.
A 2007 study found that biofeedback could help patients with OAB. Symptoms improved in over three-quarters of the patients who completed a 12-week program with biofeedback pelvic floor muscle training.
Talk with Others Who Understand
Dealing with OAB can make you feel very isolated. Those around you probably don’t really understand what you’re going through.
Battle feelings of loneliness and gain meaningful assistance through local support groups and online forums. Ask your doctor for information on groups that meet near you, or find online communities at MD Junction and the National Association for Continence.
It may feel uncomfortable at first, but once you hear other people’s stories, you’ll realize you’re not alone.
Be Aware of the Possibility of Depression
According to research, there’s a strong association between depression and incontinence. Symptoms of depression include:
- feelings of sadness
- loss of interest in normal activities
- changes in appetite
- crying spells
Depression symptoms usually last for weeks at a time. Talk to your doctor if you notice these symptoms. Getting treatment for depression can help you refocus your efforts on finding solutions to OAB.
Get Some Sleep
You may have to get up to go to the bathroom a couple times a night if you have OAB. A lack of sleep can increase risk of stress, anxiety, and depression.
To increase your odds of getting a good night’s sleep, try these steps:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Avoid drinking a lot of fluids before bedtime.
- Keep the television, cell phone, computer, and other gadgets out of the bedroom.
- Indulge in a relaxing pre-sleep activity like reading with a dim light, taking a warm bath, or doing a few easy yoga poses.
Make a Social Appointment
You’ll need some time after you’re diagnosed with OAB to figure out the best treatments. Meanwhile, you may continue to struggle with symptoms. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying social interactions.
You can always plan ahead to accommodate any potential urge to go. Meet a friend at a museum or theater where the bathrooms are easily available. Limit your time together to reduce anxiety. Gradually, as you start treatment and experience success, you’ll be able to expand your outings.
Get Out in the Sun
Sunlight, nature, and exercise are all great remedies for anxiety and stress. Make a point to get outside at least a couple times a week. At first, you may simply take the dog for a short walk or do a bit of gardening. Visit a park where you know they have open restrooms. Enjoy the outdoor area of a local library or museum.
Make sure you’re still regularly doing things that you enjoy. You need to keep yourself feeling positive and strong so you can cope and continue to seek out solutions that work for you.
Don’t Give Up
OAB is a common condition, but it can disrupt your life if you let it. If one medication doesn’t work, ask your doctor about other options. Check with a naturopath for diet suggestions or herbal remedies. Ask your support group for ideas.
It may be helpful to try meditation, yoga, or tai chi, to calm your mind and curb symptoms. A 2009 study concluded that deep-breathing and guided-imagery exercises helped train the brain to control the bladder—without medication.
- Depression (major depressive disorder): Symptoms. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/DS00175/DSECTION=symptoms
- Emmons, S., & Otto, L. (2005). Acupuncture for overactive bladder: a randomized controlled trial. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 106(1), 138-143. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15994629
- Facts and statistics. (n.d.). National Association for Continence. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.nafc.org/index.php?page=facts-statistics
- Liaw, Y., & Kuo, H. (2007). Biofeedback Pelvic Floor Muscle Training for Voiding Dysfunction and Overactive Bladder. Incontinence & Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, 1(13), 13-15. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.tcs.org.tw/issue/Folder/1_1/4.pdf
- Meditate your way to better bladder health. (2009, Apr. 28). Loyola Medicine. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://loyolamedicine.org/bariatrics/newswire/news/meditate-your-way-better-bladder-health
- Nitti, V. (2002). Clinical Impact of Overactive Bladder. Reviews in Urology, 4(4), S2-S6. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1476019/
- Overactive bladder syndrome. (2013, Nov. 11). Patient.co.uk. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.patient.co.uk/health/overactive-bladder-syndrome
- Overactive bladder: Definition. (2013, Jan. 16). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/overactive-bladder/basics/definition/CON-20027632