While we can all imagine the stressful situation that having to deal with incontinence is, it is only through actual experience that we can truly gain an appreciation for the embarrassment that the condition of incontinence can apply to one’s life. Even speaking about the subject to other people can be quite daunting and wearisome. Moreover, the amount of material available about incontinence can make the patient feel overwhelmed. Therefore, it is important to look into other options for managing stress incontinence, so that the condition can be managed from a different angle.
As you are probably aware, stress incontinence occurs when the abrupt urge to void causes the bladder to involuntarily contract, which then forces micturition. This involuntarily mandated contraction is the key to stress incontinence because we are normally able to control urination through several muscles of the pelvic floor. Another form of stress incontinence is when involuntary leakage occurs after a cough or laughter.
However, research has indicated that stress relief assists in the management of this issue. Psychology is often overlooked when the causes of some conditions are clearly mechanical in nature like in the case of stress incontinence. It is a mistake to not factor in the emotionally and mentally stressed situations that a person with stress incontinence can find themselves in during everyday activities. Stress has a real and literal role to play in almost every single medical condition, stress incontinence included.
Some research is currently geared toward finding out just how daily stress affects incontinence at a physiological level. The results point toward the ‘fight-flight’ response that we are all hardwired to act on. Let’s step back for a moment and see why this is the case.
There are two very important neurotransmitters at play here: noradrenaline and serotonin.
Serotonin is like a temper moderator that adds proper stability to your general humor. For instance, anger and depression are modulated by serotonin, meaning, having these feelings indicate that serotonin levels are low.
On the other hand, noradrenaline is a catecholamine that affects heart rate and blood pressure and is more directly involved in the afore-mentioned ‘fight-flight’.
Together, serotonin and noradrenaline team up to inform the other cells around the body to prepare for what is happening. This is felt as stress and it is due to this that we are wired to make a decision, either fight or run away. As this neurotransmitter duo is at work, they begin a chain reaction of other neurotransmitters that also influence our physical being. This is where research has been particularly revealing. It turns out that these reactions influence psychological tendencies such as response to feeling pain, the propensity to fall into a depressed state and finally, the actual ability to command your bladder.
This is further proven by the fact that people who have difficulty controlling their bladder are also more inclined to feel depressed and experience a heightened sense of pain.
The fight-flight response was used by our ancestors to decide what to do during a stressful situation, when being hunted by another wild animal for example. Luckily, those situations hardly occur with the modern human, but the fight-flight response remains as it is still a necessary and vital bodily reaction.
Now that you know some of the physiological reactions that take place when feeling stressed out as it relates to urge/stress incontinence, you can better prepare to manage your incontinence with proper relaxing techniques. Also, keep your alcohol and coffee intake in check as these drinks can further exacerbate your loss of bladder control.