Paruresis, also called “bashful bladder” or “shy bladder,” is an anxiety disorder that can quickly make life very complicated. With paruresis, the act of urinating becomes stressful and difficult, often preventing the sufferer from emptying their bladder even when they would dearly love to do so. Triggers for paruresis include desire for privacy, fear of exposure, fear of germs, fear of public restrooms, fear of being shamed for inability to urinate, and fear of embarrassment. Some sufferers cannot urinate in moving vehicles or are triggered by the sounds of their urination.
Like many other anxiety disorders, paruresis can trigger a self-defeating thought cycle and cause ordinary, intelligent people to take seemingly bizarre courses of action as they struggle to avoid venturing out in public, drinking liquids, and other activities that they feel might trigger their disorder. It can occur even if there is no logical way the act of urinating can be witnessed by others, or if the other people are simply imaginary. A similar anxiety disorder, called parcopresis, affects bowel movements.
Obviously, this anxiety can quickly affect a person’s quality of life. Public transportation, long airplane flights, and employment-related drug testing become major ordeals. Paruresis can affect a sufferer’s ability to enjoy physical and emotional intimacy. In the worst cases, sufferers can only find relief through catheterization, where a piece of surgical tubing is passed into the bladder, or surgery, which often causes complications.
Many remember Calvin, the server in the Ryan Reynolds/Justin Long movie Waiting who suffered from paruresis when he thought anyone might be watching him pee. For many like Calvin, paruresis is no joking matter, filling every day with anxiety and concern. Howard Stern has publicly admitted he suffers from the disorder and it’s a subject that the Dear Abby advice column has addressed repeatedly. Other celebrities who have been linked to paruresis are Orlando Bloom, Howie Mandel, and Alan Bennett.
At the Anxiety Treatment Center of Austin, we strongly recommend that you talk to a counselor if you are suffering from this difficult disorder. Your initial phone consultation is always free, and we are experienced in employing research-based, easy-to-understand techniques to help free you from the shackles of paruresis. Our testimonials are a good indicator of our effectiveness in helping Austin residents overcome their anxiety problems. We look forward to talking to you or your loved one.