Can Anxiety Lower Chances of Recovery from Paruresis


Paruresis or Shy Bladder is a condition in which the person is unable to urinate in public places. The psychological fear of the fact that someone is observing them or some other strange phenomenon leads to this situation. In extreme cases, the person may even fear using the rest room even at homes of the friends or relatives or even at home in the presence of large number of people.

With such a syndrome, it is inevitable that anxiety plays a crucial role in aggravating the person’s fear. When a person fears using the toilet because there are people around him, anxiety sets in and leads to a person not being able to urinate. Over a period of time, the condition may become chronic necessitating medical intervention.

Unfortunately, it has been conclusively proven that anxiety is perhaps a bigger enemy than paruresis itself and that in order to treat paruresis, the person may need counseling and guidance about how to avoid anxiety to set in. So what role does anxiety play in the life of a paruretic and how does it get triggered?

In most cases, this anxiety sets in on account of noises, smells, whispers or talks between other people who are around, and the feeling of lack of privacy. Due to this anxiety, the paruretics try and avoid situations in which they are most likely to develop an anxiety. They cut themselves off from social engagements, travels, and long business meetings. Needless to say that this affects their overall morale and confidence.

The biggest problem with fighting anxiety stems from the fact that the mind overpowers the body. Here’s how it works! As soon as the paruretic has a feeling to go to the restroom, anxiety sets in.  A part of brain implores the person to fight against it whereas the other part tells him to run away. This then releases adrenalin, the heartbeat and breathing increases and the muscles all tense up. So no matter how hard a person may try to control his anxiety, all these factors make matters worse.

There are a number of therapies that can help paruretics treat their anxiety, such as cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, as well as anti-anxiety medications.  Whereas exposure therapy has been found to be extremely effective in dealing with paruresis related anxiety, it is important to understand the symptoms first as also rule out any physical causes related to paruresis.

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AnxietyRUs February 20, 2013 at 12:31 am

I’m so glad this isn’t something I suffer from. I feel so badly for people who have something like this. I have had people who come to our clinic who have had to give a urine specimen and they can’t for the life of them because of anxiety or shy bladder. There are some who have to give a specimen because of doing a drug screen for a job and they have so much trouble. It’s good to know that treatment is available.


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