When talking about incontinence and treatment many people jump straight to physical solutions. Whether it be advice on training your pelvic floor or advice on how to start training your bladder. While these solutions are valid and are an important part of treating incontinence, one of the more overlooked impacts of incontinence is the mental strain on an individual. Helping treat incontinence doesn’t begin and end with the physical, helping those who suffer from incontinence mentally is very important. One of the common misconceptions those who suffer from incontinence have is that they are alone. This however is far from the truth as there are over 5 million people in Australia and New Zealand who suffer from incontinence, meaning it’s a more common problem that one would think.
Studies done in the past show that those with serious incontinence have an 80% greater chance of developing depression. It’s important for those who are caring with someone for incontinence or for those who suffer from incontinence to recognise the mental effects incontinence can have.
Withdrawing From Social Situations
One of the biggest impacts incontinence can have is that it causes people to withdraw from social situations. The fear of having an embarrassing accident in public means those suffering from incontinence will shy away from going out. Those who suffer from stress incontinence often find that exercising leads to incontinence. This means they will avoid exercise, specifically exercise out in public. Something that was once loved and enjoyed instead leads to feelings of anxiety and negativity. Catching up with a friend at the gym, or playing rugby for your favourite sports club all of a sudden becomes an issue because of incontinence.
While it may begin gradually, social isolation can become a big issue. As incontinence worsens so does the impact on mental health. There are cases where people are so embarrassed about having an accident in public, they avoid all public outings. Cancelling on friends and family, not showing up to work, not partaking in hobbies and interests. This isolation leads to more serious mental health issues and can cause long-lasting depression and anxiety.
While some who suffer from incontinence will withdraw and suppress their emotions the opposite can also happen. They can become frustrated and angry with the fact that they have incontinence and can’t manage it. Frustration is a natural human emotion and it’s perfectly reasonable to have these feelings. The key is to manage these feelings and not take it out on others who are trying to support you. The first step is accepting and recognising these feelings of anger and talking about them. Once you open up to someone either a doctor or a friend you should notice a decrease in the feelings of anger. Doctors and health care professionals can also suggest recommendations to help you control and manage your anger.
Managing The Mental Effects of Incontinence
The first step in dealing with incontinence is to simply talk about it. Those who suffer from incontinence either through denial or embarrassment don’t come forward about their problem. Talking to a doctor and health professional is often the hardest step but doing so will mean you get the help you need. Opening up to family and friends can also be therapeutic. Helping them understand your problems and anxiety’s means they will be more forgiving and can help them understand why you may be withdrawing socially. Taking physical steps to help improve your incontinence will also aid your mental wellbeing. Doing pelvic exercises or other things that your doctor suggests will mean your incontinence improves and you may be able to put yourself out there more socially. Independently You provides helpful products such as our Woxers and Adult Underwear. These products look and feel just like regular underwear meaning you can go out in public with peace of mind that no one will be able to tell the difference from regular underwear. While the physical effects of incontinence are well known it’s also important to take care of your mental wellbeing. Remember that continence issues are actually very common and are experienced by people of all ages so there is no shame in seeking help. While living with incontinence is hard and will be a daily challenge opening up and seeking help is the first step of living a happy and normal life.