The “Bashful” bladder syndrome as specific social anxiety

Although this specific social anxiety is not very well-known amongst the general public, it has been identified as an issue by some people who experience social phobia.

This condition is also known as “paruresis” and can be described as the inability to urinate in public restrooms.

It is a kind of specific social anxiety that is most prevalent in men. Some studies have suggested that it affects somewhere from 14 to 32 percent of males.

Within this range, some of these people simply experience delayed urination or, in more extreme, cannot urinate at all.

Bashful bladder syndrome as specific social anxiety
Bashful bladder syndrome as specific social anxiety

What happens to people with this specific social anxiety?

People with this condition are affected by various external situations.

Each individual has their own external stimuli which trigger them to either wait to urinate until they get over their anxiety or not urinate at all.

Some people are unable to urinate when they are in certain proximity to other individuals (such as in public restrooms). Others are fine in presence of strangers but not when friends and family are around.

Yet others are comfortable using public stalls when there is visual privacy, but no auditory privacy.

Some are completely uncomfortable with using public washrooms.

Many are also afraid of using bathrooms in their own homes in the presence of others since they fear that other people are able to hear them in the washrooms.

In some cases, this may appear to be a small nuisance; however, this issue can be experienced so intensely that people with this phobia have to make serious changes in their lifestyle.

An example can include two partners living in different parts of the house because one partner does not feel comfortable going to the bathroom while the other partner is close by.

Of course, those who are affected by this condition, find work, leisure, and school situations to be intolerable.

People shy away and are terrified from using stalls while watching games and concerts, or when at work or in dormitories.

Any kind of public get together can be a source of major psychological and physical discomfort.

It is interesting to note that people with this specific social anxiety develop immense ways to regulate their fluid intake and timing to restrict their urination.

Often people describe themselves as not ever feeling comfortable and, at the same time, always troubled by the need or the fear to need to urinate.

People often invest time to learn locations of isolated or unused restrooms in their places of work, school, or other areas where often go.

This kind of specific social phobia has not been well-understood as much as other social phobia.

However, it is important to appreciate that the process of urination is a complex function which requires interaction of sympathetic and parasympathetic components of the automatic nervous system. The automatic nervous system relaxes the urethra and contracts the bladder.

Anxiety can interrupt this process and constrict one’s ability to urinate normally.

Studies on this condition have attributed this problem with “body shyness” in which people are uncomfortable undressing, showering, and the like in front of others who are of the same sex.

Anecdotal accounts suggest that people are not necessarily embarrassed when performing routine body functions.

Instead, their anxiety, self-consciousness, and self-monitoring affects the automatic bodily processes which prevents them from urinating.

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