Being afraid to sneeze or laugh too hard. Rushing to make it to the restroom in time. Worrying about leakage. Do these sound like familiar concerns to you? If you’re one of the 13 million people in the United States who live with urinary incontinence, fears like this are normal. However, you may find that your mood has persistently worsened over time. Perhaps you’re also feeling sad or hopeless. You may be suffering from depression related to incontinence.
If these feelings don’t go away, we encourage you to talk to your doctor about it. A proper diagnosis of a mood disorder may be the first step to getting your life back on track.
However, we understand you may want some answers now. Continue reading to learn what you should know about incontinence and depression.
Who Is Affected By Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence can happen to anyone at any age, but studies show that women experience urinary incontinence twice as much as men do.
Why are women affected by incontinence more commonly than men? The main factor is the pelvic anatomy of women and how it differs from that of men, as well as hormonal fluctuations that occur during menopause.
Other potential causes of female incontinence may include:
- Bladder muscle weakness
- Pelvic floor weakness
- Urinary tract infections, which can increase the urge the void your bladder and sometimes cause leakage
- Being over the healthy weight for your body type and height
- A medical condition from birth like spina bifida
- Side effects from certain medicines
- Drinking diuretic liquids like coffee, tea, and colas
- Certain neurological disorders
Women are also more susceptible to UTIs (urinary tract infections) and bladder infections, which may worsen incontinence. UTIs tend to increase the urge to void the bladder, sometimes involuntarily.
The additional risk of infections in women is also due to anatomy. The vagina, urethra, and anus are positioned more closely together on the female body, which makes it easier for bacteria to travel up the urethra.
Can Urinary Incontinence Cause Depression?
A strong link between urinary incontinence and depression exists, particularly in younger women. A recent paper published by researchers tried to find out the causes as well as what can be done to treat both conditions.
One potential cause is weight gain and/or childbirth, which are both commonly related to urinary incontinence as well as depression. New mothers, in particular, may suffer from postpartum depression.
When pelvic floor muscles are stretched, whether due to bearing a child, gaining weight, or other conditions, it makes tightening the bladder’s sphincter muscles more difficult. This can result in mild to severe leakage or dribbling of urine.
Another reason may be related to societal stigma regarding disorders affecting the bladder and bowels. People living with incontinence may feel like they’re totally alone, or they may experience shame or embarrassment about their condition.
The research ultimately concluded that more must be done to educate women on prevention and treatment options for incontinence as well as depression.
Treatment of Incontinence and Depression
If you are experiencing urinary incontinence and/or feelings of depression, please know that millions of other people are going through this too. Your doctor won’t judge or shame you in any way. Healthcare professionals want to help their patients heal and find proper treatment plans in order to improve their quality of life.
Treatments depend on your personal medical history as well as the severity and type of symptoms you’re experiencing. Your doctor could recommend intermittent catheterization or incontinence supplies to help manage the issue. For example, female diapers or female bladder control pads can be an easy way to handle leakage.
Your doctor may also want you to record a bladder diary for several days or weeks as well, which may sound like a pain, but they may be able to provide you with an easy-to-use booklet in which to record your symptoms, when and how often you’re urinating or having accidents, and other information.
There are also some helpful smartphone apps, such as UroBladderDiary, which may be easier for you to use. Recording this kind of information in an app rather than a written journal can also be a real help if you want to keep your symptoms private from those around you.
While it may seem daunting right now, the sooner you can schedule an appointment with your doctor, the sooner you can get on the road to recovery.
Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, there is light ahead.
Helpful Resources and Support
A few resources and options for support, both online and in-person, can definitely be useful when you’re not sure where to go next for information.
These links may be helpful in your journey back to wellness:
Incontinence Support Center: A Caring Community
This website has helpful articles as well as an online forum where you can talk to other women who are experiencing the same symptoms as you are.
Daily Strength Urinary Incontinence Support Group
Connect online with others living with urinary incontinence and other bladder issues. You can find support, encouragement, and tips from fellow women living with incontinence.
ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) Support Groups Near You
Find free support groups near you. This helpful website also offers facts about depression and anxiety, tips on how to deal with your feelings, and more.
Postpartum Support International
Learn more about life after having a child, including postpartum depression and potential therapy options. You also have options to call a support line and chat with a mental health expert, join an online support group for other women living with postpartum depression, and more.
Crisis Text Line
This free support is available 24 hours a day, every day, for those in crisis. A live, trained Crisis Counselor can respond and text with you on a secure platform and help you.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Sometimes depression and feelings of hopelessness can become so severe that you don’t feel like there is any other way out of your problems, but there always is. You can visit this website, or if you need someone to speak with immediately, simply call their toll-free hotline at 1-800-273-8255 at any time of day, and someone can speak with you.
Intermittent Catheterization As Incontinence Treatment
If your doctor determines that something as simple as intermittent catheterization can help treat your urinary incontinence, our Catheter Specialists at 180 Medical are always ready to lend you a compassionate ear and walk you through your first experience of getting the right female catheter products for your individual needs.
You will never be shamed or made to feel embarrassed when you speak with anyone at 180 Medical. This is our specialty, and we speak to many people of all ages and genders who require the use of intermittent catheters, ostomy products, and other related medical supplies.
Our goal is to help turn your life around, so we’ll do what we can to make the experience of getting your catheters and other female incontinence supplies as easy and worry-free as possible.
With the right resources and support behind you, you could be feeling like your old self again soon! If you’re experiencing symptoms of incontinence or depression, it’s a great idea to get the ball rolling by calling your doctor to schedule an appointment to diagnose your symptoms today.