Secret signs of anxiety: Part Two: Needing to use the bathroom frequently

Just as common today as anxiety are stomach problems associated with conditions such as IBS. More and more this is affecting young people who would try anything to avoid the discomfort and the embarrassment. Needing the bathroom all the time in work, while out or just not being able to eat the foods we want is a very annoying problem.

Therefore, in this second blog of this series we are going to explore a common sign associated with anxiety, common to all types of anxiety: having stomach problems or needing the bathroom frequently. This may be a sign that anxiety is higher than normal especially if it strikes noticeably at times of increased stress. By needing to go to the bathroom this can mean either type of bathroom visit.

The frequency of needing the bathroom can vary due to many things. It can depend on what we had to eat or drink, if we are sick, the temperature outside or many other biological factors. However, one thing that can affect the need to “go” is anxiety and that is down to biology and this may have even helped us at one point!

If the reader has been having a lot of stomach/bathroom problems and recognizes themselves in this article there’s no need to panic, just be curious and stop and ask is it possible that the problem may have something to do with anxiety. A lot of people go to the doctor, try restrictive diets, pills and other remedies when in fact the problem could be that they are in a constant state of anxiety.

How on earth are needing the bathroom and anxiety related?

Basically, the two can be related due to the very nature anxiety’s function! Anxiety is our bodies reaction to danger, our bodies way of letting us know that we do not feel safe. The thing here though is that our bodies don’t necessarily differentiate between how they react to a physical danger and say something that makes us embarrassed or expressly anxious.

When we are stressed the system that kicks in is called our fight or flight response. Imagine a scary situation and how the reaction has been the past. The body is going to release hormones such as adrenaline to prepare to put up a fight or to run away (flight). If the body feels neither of these are an option, it can also go into freeze.

Now when this happens several other biological processes begin to happen. Our heart rate increases, the mind speeds up as it scans for threats, our breathing will begin to quicken, we may become pale as the blood drains from us. Very importantly in terms of our blood, we begin to redirect our blood towards our major muscle groups as we tense them in preparation for fight or flight.

This leaves one non-essential area with less blood and muscle tension: the digestive system. Basically, while this is happening the body is using twice as much energy to keep us safe however little energy is going to digestion.

Many of us will have seen movies where characters facing death have either urinated or defecated on themselves. This happens even to children when they are scared and can happen to anyone if faced with extreme danger. This involuntary loosening of the muscles may even have been to make us lighter to run faster or to deter predators from eating us. If holding a dog or cat and he/she does this on us we are going to probably let him or her go right? Hence, this may have served a purpose at some stage.

However, bringing ourselves again to the situation of men and women in the present. This function very rarely services us and now can be very annoying/upsetting for someone who is frequently anxious. For them the digestion system is constantly deprived and may not function correctly.

Another issue may be hyperventilation and too much air being in the digestive system causing gas and flatulence. When food is not digested properly this can also be a problem. IBS can be diagnosed when frequently food is not processed by the body correctly leading to gas and either or frequent constipation or diarrhea. These issues face basically everyone who is under severe stress.

Working on Anxiety:

While stomach problems and needing the bathroom can be a combination of many things (food intolerance, disease, genetics, etc.) anxiety is an under-appreciated part of why people develop needing the bathroom frequently or IBS. Most doctors won’t even ask about a person’s stress or anxiety levels when they get a consultation for these issues.

The good thing is that Anxiety is something that can be worked on either through personal development or with a trained professional. Working on anxiety can be a gateway to helping with problems such as this as well as many others.

If curious about learning more about anxiety or getting help please feel free to visit our website, take our anxiety quiz, visit our therapist team to make an appointment or schedule a free suitability call. On this page we will continue to write about Anxiety and related topics.

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Anxiety is a merry-go-round, going no where fast, it’s ok to step off.

Team Anxiety Ireland

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