Understanding the triggers of shy bladder syndrome. Shy Bladder syndrome, or more formally known as Paruresis (read more), is an inability to pee when in the presence of other people or if there’s a chance of other people entering the vicinity. None of us were born that way but something happened along the way that changed our mindset to create this irrational reaction in the brain every time we enter a public restroom.
The key to unlocking the anxiety of paruresis and hence the shy bladder cure lies in understanding the initial trigger of the condition. It’s not until you get to the root of the problem that you can beat the condition easily. This is often easier said than done though!
Overview To The Triggers Of Shy Bladder Syndrome
The inability to pee is caused by the muscles that control the act of urinating clenching up and refusing to relax. We can actually clench these muscles up ourselves if we try. It is only when these muscles are relaxed that you can urinate without difficulty. Paruresis is therefore caused by your mind automatically clenching up when you need to pee in a public place and, no matter what you try, you’re not able to get then to relax and start the flow. Left untreated it will only worsen over time to the point where we expect it and know it’s going to happen. It’s at that stage it becomes life restricting.
There’s no rational or physiological reason for this clenching, so what causes it? The cause is simple – some event(s) caused the mind to alter the rational automatic response to this irrational one. All we therefore need to do is find out what started it and change things back to the way they were before this event. Sounds simple right? It is fairly simple … but only when the actual trigger can be established. And, that’s not always quite so easy!
Common Initial Paruresis Triggers
The initial trigger will be specific to each paruretic and hence are numerous. Every single case will be different and personal to the individual. All triggers can be classified into one of three categories though:
- Physiological factors. In this case, although shy bladder is not a physical condition and is officially categorised as a form of social anxiety, the inability to pee could be a result of a catalogue of historical medical conditions.
- Anxiety is in the genes. As we stated, we’re dealing with a form of anxiety and so a genetic predisposition can affect things.
- Environmental factors. This is the big one! The most common initial cause is some historic environmental event that’s caused the mind to change track. Let’s look at this category in more detail.
Environmental Factors Causing Shy Bladder Syndrome
We’ve established that paruresis is not a physical condition as there’s nothing medically wrong with the urinary tract. It’s a psychological condition caused by anxiety. But usually something in the past triggered it off in the first place. Some environmental factor occurred that started the downhill spiral of shy bladder. This could be anything but here’s a few of the more common ones that are reported:
- Embarrassment. Some embarrassing event kicked it off and worrying about it has made things worse. This could be something like not being able to produce a urine sample for a doctor at one time when very young or as a result of something or someone that caused you embarrassment in a public restroom. The embarrassment has festered in the back of the mind and anxiety has built up to the point where it’s impossible to pee when anyone is around.
- Teasing. We all know what kids can be like and perhaps some form of bathroom teasing has triggered the anxiety off.
- Bullying And Harassment. This is a common cause of general anxiety and shy bladder is no different. Bullying, especially in our younger years, in relation to the toilet is a very common trigger of shy bladder.
- Pressure To Perform. This could stem right back to excess parental pressure during potty training or similar.
- Sexual Abuse. Some form of restroom abuse can understandably trigger the anxiety.
This is in no way an exhaustive list of initial triggers of shy bladder syndrome. There are many other events that could easily be the cause. But, you get the idea. Something in your past, some historical event, has caused this change in your minds natural reactions to restrooms. You may already know what this is but it’s highly probable that it wont be that easy to identify.
Current Triggers Of Shy Bladder Syndrome
We’ve looked at the initial triggers and what could have caused the onset of the condition. But what about the triggers that cause the daily onset of a shy bladder anxiety attack?
There are varying degrees of triggers and “severity” of the condition. In ascending order:
- A compact, full, public toilet with portable urinals (none of us particularly like these!).
- A restroom that’s only accessible at certain times and hence very busy (theatre intervals etc).
- A small public restroom which is full and with people queuing.
- A small restroom with just two urinals making it impossible for space if someone else comes in.
- A quiet and fairly large restroom with a few people but no one waiting.
- A large restroom with individually partitioned urinals with a few others around.
- A familiar public restroom with a couple of people present.
- A restroom for one single person.
What we’re suggesting is that the worst case of shy bladder syndrome will mean that a sufferer will be unable to start a flow even when in a public restroom for one person and hence in almost complete privacy. They will not even be able to pee in a locked cubical in a public toilet. For others it mat be just the really busy places where they struggle. Situations where they can’t select their space and it’s 100% certain that they’ll have people standing either side of them with no privacy at all.
Shy Bladder – Consider Your Situation
So, the next time you find yourself unable to go to the toilet – stop and consider two things:
- Think back to what may have started the anxiety in the first place. What was this initial trigger? If you can get to the root of this it will make it so much easier to cure the condition. Don’t worry though – it’s still possible to cure it even if you can’t work this out.
- Establish the severity of your own paruresis. What situation or environment triggers the anxiety “attack”. Is it confined to busy compact restrooms or does it affect you even in relative privacy?
Understanding the triggers can be of great help in treatment.