Having to go to the bathroom more often can be highly irritating and a bit embarrassing for many of us. Although more frequent urination is a symptom of many different conditions, it’s also been linked to anxiety. If you’re concerned about how much you’re needing to go to the bathroom, please consult your doctor.
As with a lot of physical symptoms of anxiety, the triggers lie within our caveman brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases these stress chemicals and activates a response called the fight, flight or freeze response. The stress hormone cortisol or the chemical adrenaline are released and this puts our body on high alert, and as a result, our body prepares to either fight, flight or freeze.
Why Can Anxiety Cause More Frequent Urination?
There are a few reasons why anxiety can cause more frequent urination. First of all, it can be that when our body goes into fight, flight or freeze mode, there’s an instinct to rid the body of water through urination and perspiration. This is so if you’re trying to run away or fight someone, that you don’t need to go to the toilet mid-battle. So, if you get nervous and immediately feel the urge to pee, this is probably what’s happening.
Another reason is that when we’re in this survival mode our heart rate increases as does our digestion and metabolism. So, when we’re stressed, our body is operating quicker than usual to flush out any toxins through the kidneys and consequently making us need to urinate more frequently.
Finally, we have hyperstimulation. This occurs when we’re stressed and our entire body becomes hypersensitive and over stimulated. This means that our body is like a live wire and our nervous system gets a huge increase in activity. When this happens our neurons can act erratically and effectively get muddled up with what they’re trying to say. This can lead to thinking that you have to urinate more often, even if your bladder isn’t full. When our body is hyperstimulated it’s trying to do everything at once in order to be hyper aware and keep us alive.
How Can I Stop This Symptom?
The trouble is, hyperstimulation lasts even after the perceived threat has disappeared, so it’s up to us to calm our nervous system down and bring our body back to homeostasis, or our natural balanced state. We can do this through breathing exercises, movement, and actively trying to focus on the present moment, not the perceived threat or hypothetical what ifs. This should calm our brain enough to deactivate the fight, flight or freeze response and begin the process of lessening the accompanying physical symptoms caused by hyperstimulation.
Of course, in order to prevent the symptoms of anxiety occurring in the first place, you need to manage or build strategies to tackle your anxiety. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information.