Shy Bladder Syndrome – Paruresis
Paruresis, often called ‘Shy Bladder’ syndrome, is where a person finds it difficult or impossible to urinate when other people are around.
Nearly four million people in the UK are unable to urinate in public toilets because of a social phobia commonly called ‘Shy Pee’ (Anxiety UK, 2017).
The condition was first recognised in 1954 by psychologists Williams and Degenhart. Paruresis affects both men and women
In severe cases, a person with paruresis may only be able to urinate when at home alone.
The urinary sphincter must be relaxed in order for urine to flow from the bladder down the urethra. Anxiety about urinating over-stimulates the person’s nervous system and ‘tightens’ the sphincter. This in turn causes further anxiety, especially if the bladder feels uncomfortably full.
Standing at a men’s urinal feeling all eyes from the queue behind are on you, the person often walks away, albeit with their bladder still full. They are then in the awkward position of having to make an excuse to return to the toilet soon after.
In some ways it is like urinary retention, where you ‘cannot go,’ but whereas retention is a physical problem, paruresis is a psychological problem, an anxiety disorder.
It is not difficult to imagine the extent to which paruresis might cause total disruption to and have a far-reaching and negative impact on every aspect of a person’s life, affecting relationships, and making ordinary things like arranging a day out with friends, very difficult, all adding to further anxiety.
Paruresis is triggered by anxiety, caused by any, or a combination of ‘rational fears’ which may include, feelings of self-consciousness, of being watched or scrutinised, a feeling of being rushed or simple embarrassment.
Hypnotherapy can successfully address and remove the anxiety associated with this condition so that you can relax and ignore your surroundings, enabling you to urinate, without issue and with very positive results.
If you suspect that you have a medical problem, please contact your doctor promptly.