Urinary Incontinence and Mental Health

Mental health is essential at every stage of life and affects how we think, feel, and act because it includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Trying to manage a urinary incontinence condition can leave one feeling mentally exhausted. Experiencing a urinary incontinence accident in public can be highly embarrassing and potentially lead to psychological consequences.

The Basics About Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is also referred to as bladder leakage and is a more common condition that most often comes with age. The involuntary loss of urine is not a disease itself but rather a symptom of another underlying condition.

There are three types of urinary incontinence:

  1. Stress incontinence occurs when urine leaks happen when you cough, sneeze, jump, or laugh, due to weakened pelvic floor muscles.
  2. Urge incontinence, also called overactive bladder, typically occurs in older men and women. When the bladder muscles weaken or its urine-holding capacity decreases, the bladder uncontrollably contracts, causing an intense urge to urinate, resulting in leaks.
  3. Mixed incontinence is a combination of both urge and stress incontinence.

Common underlying conditions that cause urinary incontinence:

  1. Pregnancy can cause hormonal changes, and the additional weight on the bladder can lead to stress incontinence.
  2. Aging of the bladder muscle can decrease its capacity to hold urine.
  3. An enlarged prostate gland can cause the bladder muscle to malfunction and lead to urge incontinence.
  4. A hysterectomy involves removing the uterus, which may damage the supporting pelvic floor muscles, leading to urinary incontinence. 
  5. Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, a spinal cord injury, or a stroke can cause interference with the nervous system and throw nerve signals involved in bladder control out of whack, causing urinary incontinence.

The Importance of Mental Health and Wellness

Mental health is essential to living a healthy, balanced life and determines how we handle our lives’ stressors. It also impacts the relationships we form with others and the choices and decisions we make daily. Our thinking, mood, and behaviors can be affected throughout our lives if we experience mental health problems. Being emotionally healthy can help promote productivity and effectiveness in activities like work or caregiving.

The Connection Between Urinary Incontinence and Mental Health

Because urinary incontinence can feel embarrassing for some, it can often lead to depression and anxiety. On the flip side, if you are suffering from depression and anxiety, your urinary incontinence could be the precursor to urinary incontinence. 

Those who suffer from urinary incontinence might experience a considerable impact on their dignity and self-confidence. The physical discomfort and psychological effects can lead to isolation to avoid possible embarrassment in social situations. Outings, parties, and other regular social activities that were once enjoyed may become challenging to handle for fear of having an accident in public. The greater the urinary incontinence condition is can likely contribute to a greater degree of depression.

Signs of a Mental Health Concern

If you or someone you know are struggling with a urinary incontinence condition, there are some signs to watch out for that may suggest you need some professional guidance. Remember, good mental health is essential for your entire mind and body to function at its optimal level.

Some signs of mental health issues are:

  • Overly tired with low energy
  • Sleeping problems
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Missed work or appointments
  • Decreased enjoyment of life
  • Inability to think or concentrate
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Notable changes in eating habits
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Mental illness can be temporary or last a long time but is critical to address. It is essential to pay attention to any of these changes and contact your doctor or therapist for treatment. If you or anyone you know have displayed suicidal thoughts or behaviors, get help right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use the chat function at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat

At-Home Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

As we mentioned earlier, urinary incontinence can be caused by various factors such as pregnancy, an enlarged prostate, or a neurological condition, to name a few. However, there are ways to manage urinary incontinence right from your own home.

  • Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor exercises, can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. When the pelvic floor muscles are in shape, the uterus and bladder are appropriately supported to prevent accidental urinary leaks.
  • Diet plays a role in the severity of a urinary incontinence condition. A poor diet lacking proper nutrients can lead to an aggravated urinary tract. Avoiding foods and beverages like caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and some spicy foods may improve your symptoms. And remember to drink plenty of water to flush your system.
  • Bladder training can help lengthen the time between trips to the restroom until you are only urinating every 2-4 hours. Keeping a bladder journal is a helpful tool that can help you and your doctor better understand your condition.
  • Urinary incontinence products help manage your condition no matter how much absorbency you require. There are various urinary incontinence products available for light, moderate, and maximum absorbencies and different styles for activity types. You can learn more and read in-depth information about incontinence pads, absorbency levels, styles, and even how to choose the correct size and fit on our All About Incontinence Pads blog post.

Good mental health is essential for us to be balanced emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Urinary incontinence, combined with poor mental health, is worse than either condition alone. It is imperative to treat both of these conditions as early as possible to avoid a significant impact on your health and quality of life.

For any questions related to the incontinence products we carry or for more information related to urinary incontinence, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help. For more serious concerns related to the signs of poor mental health we outlined above, immediately contact your doctor or therapist.

Urinary Incontinence Products

Abena Abri-Flex Premium Pull-On Protective Underwear (L2)

Depend Guards for Men

Attends Shaped Day Pads Day Plus

First Quality Incognito Maxi Feminine Pads

The Challenges of Being a Caregiver

As the population ages, caregiving is being provided more and more by people other than healthcare professionals such as family members or other close friends. Often, these family members or friends do not refer to themselves as a formal “caregiver” and therefore do not think about the support they also need in this role.

A lot of time and energy goes into caregiving, which may lead to a caregiver to neglect their own needs. Making time for self-care can be a challenge for many caregivers. If you are a caregiver, it is essential to preserve your health and well-being. Caring for a loved one can put a strain on even the most resilient people.

A Caregiver Defined

A caregiver is someone who provides basic care to someone that has a chronic medical condition, an illness that lasts for a long time or doesn’t go away.

Examples of some chronic conditions include:

  • Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
  • Any cancer
  • Arthritis
  • The after-effects of a stroke or injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetes

The caregiver helps the person with many tasks such as meal preparation, eating, shopping, cleaning, administering medicine, bathing, and dressing. Above all, two of the most important things a caregiver provides is companionship and emotional support.

Being a Caregiver Can Be Rewarding Yet Also Stressful

Many caregivers are friends or family members of the person who needs care. Some grown adults feel an innate responsibility to care for their aging parents and often cherish this time as a caregiver. Their parent provided for them, and now this is their opportunity to return the blessing. It can bring a sense of joy and fulfillment, yet it can also pose significant challenges.

But a shift in roles and emotions is almost certain. It is natural to feel exhausted, frustrated, angry, or alone. The emotional and physical stress of caregiving is common and referred to as caregiver stress.

People who experience caregiver stress can be vulnerable to changes in their own health. Risk factors for caregiver stress include:

  • Living with the person you are caring for
  • A higher number of hours spent caregiving
  • Lack of choice in being a caregiver
  • Having fewer years of formal education
  • Social isolation
  • Having depression
  • Financial difficulties
  • Lack of coping skills

Caring for a loved one who is seriously ill is never easy. You are often “on-call” almost all the time and feel your own free time is gone. It may be hard for you to juggle the different parts of your life, such as work, chores, and caring for the ill person.

Caregiving is also hard because you will be the one that sees changes in your loved one and find it difficult to see them the same way you did before they became ill. For example, if you are the caregiver for someone that develops Alzheimer’s, they may not recognize you at times, develop behavioral problems, or begin to suffer from incontinence. Alzheimer’s and incontinence can add an additional level of caregiving that can be very difficult to manage.

Common Signs of Caregiver Stress

When negative feelings start to take over and begin to disrupt your life, your health could suffer. Issues like depression, anxiety, and stress overload can take a toll on one’s health. A caregiver may not realize that their own health and well-being are being compromise because they are so caught up on caring for their loved one.

Signs of caregiver stress include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or helpless
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Social withdrawal
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Unhealthy behaviors such as abusing alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications

Too much stress over a long period as a caregiver can harm your health, which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. If you think you are suffering from caregiver stress, call your doctor. They can help you manage your feelings and stress with various tools such as stress management techniques, counseling, or medicine.

Tips for Dealing With Caregiver Stress

Caregiving can be stressful, complicated, and time-consuming, so it is vital to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.

Some ways to help manage caregiver stress include:

  • Accept help. If a friend offers to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week, run an errand for you, or cook, take them up on it.
  • Believe you are doing your best.  No one is perfect and it is ok to feel guilty sometimes. Focus on knowing that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you are able to.
  • Set realistic goals. Make lists and a daily routine. By breaking up large tasks into smaller ones, you will feel a better sense of accomplishment.
  • Look for resources. Many communities have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing or offer caregiving services such as transportation and meal delivery.
  • Join a support group. People in support groups understand what you may be going through and can provide validation and encouragement. Friendships can also be created in support groups that can provide meaningful connections when you may be feeling alone.
  • Practice self-care. Find time for physical activity, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, and set goals for a good sleep routine. Many caregivers have issues with sleeping and not getting quality sleep over a long period can lead to health issues.
  • Schedule your routine doctor visits. It is essential to get recommended vaccinations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver and don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have. No one should ever have to suffer in silence.

If you are a caregiver and are struggling to manage incontinence for your loved one, we want to help make life a bit easier for you. Our wide selection of absorbent incontinence products are sure to help you and your loved one enjoy more out of each day and sleep better all through the night. With fewer product changes, less laundry, and more uninterrupted nights, you’ll have more time and energy for other caregiving activities or even your own wellness and personal care.

If you want to learn more about our adult incontinence products, need advice on what products to try, or have questions about incontinence, our Personally Delivered Incontinence Product Experts are just a phone call away.