Why do anxious feelings create the need to go to toilet frequently?
Last Updated: 02/18/2021 at 11:30am
Michael Hofrath, Ph.D. Candidate
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Could be a flight or fight response. When an anxiety-provoking situation occurs, our sympathetic nervous system starts up (e.g. accelerated heart rate, sweat), causing a fight or flight situation, where we either stay still (typically freeze), or run away from the problem. Making your bladder feel full is one way the system creates that 'flight' for you, so you can escape the situation.
Anxiety is more than an emotional issue, it causes physical reactions. Our bodies enter a fight or flight mode and going to the toilet is part of that. When this happens, as hard as it is to deal with, try to cut back on your liquid intake but still make sure you are remaining hydrated. It will eventually even out.
It is part of the fight or flight response of the body that make our digestive system react like that
Our bodies and our psychological well being are tightly knit. Our emotional health can trigger a number of bodily functions as a method of relieving stress, and going to the toilet is one of them, and it is completely normal. Another implication is vomiting. That's why people who are really nervous, sometimes vomit.
The gut is heavily connected with anxiety-like effects, and so the frequent need originates. There are a lot of studies that show the gut-anxiety connectivity.
Its a flight or fight reaction. When you're faced with a stressful/difficult situation, muscle tension occurs at your stomach/bladder, causing urges to make toilet trips.
Anxiety causes our heart rate to go up, which causes our mind to enter that "fight or flight" mode. Because of this, our body quickly tries to evacuate anything that will only deteriorate our ability to "fight" or "run away" from danger; this includes the sudden urge to want to go to the bathroom to empty our body of any waste. This allows the body to feel "lighter" so you can move quickly on your feet if anything was to occur.
Anxiety is different for every person. Some people with anxiety may experience the feeling of needing to go to the toilet, some others may feel like they need to go away and some other may have other experiences. Anxiety is a spectrum.
Feeling anxious may cause you to have stomach cramps, which could result in the need to go to the bathroom frequently.
Anxiety increases the metabolic rate in the body, temporarily. So that may affect digestion of food as well.
I believe it may be due to the fact that your digestive system is very fragile and any slight changes to you can cause changes to it. It may also be because when we're feeling anxious, the stress from that feeling can cause us to enter 'fight or flight' mode which different people handle different ways. Some people sweat, others shake, some people need to go to toilet. There is also the possibility that IBS is involved, it may be a good idea to get that checked out just to be safe.
A lot of time anxiety is linked to our desire to control something or a situation. In most cases, we have the ability to control our bladders, and knowing where the nearest bathroom is is another part of that control. I find that when dealing with anxiety, holding onto things that we can control (or feel we can) can actually be helpful. If it is causing you distress, it may be worth looking into further and working to develop different means of control.
Anxiety creates a lot of pressure on your body and your hormones and affects your digestion system. It is very common for people with anxiety.
Sometimes you may become frightened and this will result in the need to use the bathroom. This is common when experiencing anxiety.
Anxiety leads to a constant battle with disturbing thoughts and ideas. To get through the phase, individual indulge in behaviors which aid in controlling those thoughts and ideas. Thus, certain common behaviors are biting nails, fidgeting, going to toilet. It is a way to train the brain to let go the anxious feelings.
Anxiety triggers physical symptoms in people including nausea and stomach pains at times. These are caused by the chemicals in your brain that are produced when you are in an anxious situation. So, even though having to go to the bathroom more sucks, it is a completely normal reaction to anxiety.
When your body is stressed, it goes into a flight or fight response. The flight response can cause your body to have the shakes, cause you to feel nauseous, dizzy, accelerated heart rate, faint, etc. When your body is in it's flight response your body is working twice as hard because it thinks its in trouble and is trying to protect you. In this case, frequent trips to the bathroom is a just a normal response to your body's stress levels.
So when one has IBS on occasion, how bad can things turn out? Can it get to the point of creating an ulcer in the colon? I do have a terrible pain in the abdominal area, is that a hint? I’m supposed to have an endoscopy soon, because there’s that pain, but I’m also worried it can be worse.
Anxiety can cause discomfort in your stomache and other physical discomfort. This can cause gastrointestinal issues and make an anxious person go to the restroom more frequently.
Anxiety often causes discomfort in the mind and the body. Therefore, the anxious feelings affect your body, and alot of the time that can be your stomach, which often causes more toilet use. However this does help as it is a sense of letting go.
There is actually something I learned recently. When people are in the sympathetic nervous system mode (fight or flight), their blood flow leaves the digestive/GI system (to go to your limbs as if you'll run away), which causes stomach issues.
Is it something you ate? I get like that when something I eat doesn't go well with my body and it rejects it.
Anxiety triggers the release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands located atop your kidneys. Your body's response to adrenaline causes your body to produce blood sugar from fat stores and direct your blood away from your core into your skeletal muscles in preparation to make a quick getaway. While your blood is being directed toward your skeletal muscles, it is also being directed away from your vital organs. For this reason some people begin to feel nauseous, and have difficulty breathing. In more acute responses it can cause people and animals to lose continence. People who experience chronic anxiety will likely experience frequent diarrhea from incomplete digestion as well, which will also contribute to the sudden urge to void their bowels.
They are several hyphotesis: The first one is that when we are anxious, the nervous system operates at a higher level of sensitivity, which could cause the bladder to activate the mechanisms even if it is not completely full. In addition, the adrenaline generated by the stress situation could activate the mechanism to give relief to the body. Another possibility is that, in a state of anxiety, many of the muscles of the body become tense, and among them could be those of the bladder. That's what I've listen and read. I'm not sure if that's the real reason.
It has to do with the fact that our body is preparing for a dangerous situation, and it wants to make sure we have all the attention necessary to deal with it without distractions. If you notice, it generally happens up until the point you have to deal with the "dangerous thing." For example, if you are nervous about an exam, you'll go to the bathroom for a few hours before and then once the time comes, you can sit through the exam quite normally. Basically, it's the body emptying itself out so that you can give your all to the upsetting situation. Imagine having to fight a tiger and all of a sudden you have to pee ;)
Anxiety involves the activation of the fight-or-flight response. This is an ancient mechanism that brains have developed to get us out of dodge as quickly and efficiently as possible. If something makes us afraid, we better get out of there or be prepared to fight that thing. Part of fight-or-flight is that we can't be "wasting" any energy on digesting food, or holding urine in the body. Our has to be dedicated to our muscles and limbs. So, for the same reason fear causes people to soil themselves or throw up, anxiety creates the urge to go to the toilet.
I actually have Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, in part because of anxiety. Most people don't realize how tense their body is, and all muscles in the body are connected. When people get very anxious their whole body is often subconsciously tense. Bladder and bowel muscles can involuntarily contract. Of course, nausea doesn't help. Progression muscle relaxation is one of the best methods for relaxing your entire body. Keeping your physical body relaxed will help keep you from going to the bathroom all day long. Often just taking some deep breaths and relaxing your muscles when you get the urge to go to the bathroom helps.
I researched it. Do you feel as though you have to urinate more frequently than usual? Do you feel you need to urinate even though you just urinated? Anxiety can cause frequent urination. Behaving in an apprehensive manner activates the stress response, which sends out stress hormones into the bloodstream and bring out physiological, psychological, and emotional changes to ensure the body can deal with a threat. Kinda like flight or fight. A part of the stress response changes includes causing the body to eliminate waste as quickly as possible (so you don’t bave to stop and do it while you’re either fighting or fleeing). Therefore, many people feel the urge to go to the toilet when they wr stressed or anxious.
Behaving in an apprehensive manner activates the stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat - to either fight with or flee from it - which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response. A part of the stress response changes include causing the body to eliminate waste as quickly as possible (so that you don’t have to stop and do that when either fighting or fleeing)
Anxiety/anxious feelings cause the need to go to the toilet frequently mainly because of the fight or flight system. The fight or flight system, if you don't know what it is, is a system wired in our brains that helps us decide whether to flee from a dangerous situation, or to stand our ground. It pumps adrenaline into our bodies and is meant to protect us from harm, but anxiety often forces this system into continue use. Because of this, the system creates a large amount of stress and tension in our bodies. This can put pressure on our internal organs which makes us feel as if we need to use the bathroom, or even cause us to go because of the pressure being put on our bladder. Anxiety can also cause our stomachs to turn or hurt, which may result in some bowel movement or nausea.
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