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Anxiety and Needing the Toilet

Anxiety and Needing the Toilet

Needing the toilet when you wouldn't normally is another common form taken by panic attacks.

Just as many people tend to start worrying about, "What if I panic?" as soon as they realise they're somewhere where it would be inconvenient or embarrassing to do so, so too there are others who have developed the habit of believing they must use the toilet when they realise this is not possible.

I recently treated a young lady who had developed the habit of thinking, as soon as she found herself on a moving bus, that she needed to use the toilet. The mechanism behind this was obvious.

She had been in the habit of having that thought when on a bus which had no toilet facilities. Over time her survival instinct had learnt to view being on a bus as a threat simply because she always became anxious and had raised negative arousal when on one.

Because she had learnt to associate the fear of needing a toilet with this whole scenario, that was just what automatically happened each time she got on a bus.


waiting for bus
thoughts on bus
waiting for bus
thoughts on bus

She told me that she had learnt to keep it at bay a bit, so as to last the journey, by blocking out those thoughts, but she hadn't succeeded in preventing the fearful thought from happening.

With treatment, however, she learnt how to go about doing just that and succeeded.

One of the big problems when people have this symptom is that if they cannot control it and the worst happens it can be very embarrassing. Therefore the key to success is usually finding a situation in which if the worst happens it doesn't really matter too much.

The key here is to be able to practise at not joining in with the fearful thoughts when you are safe at home. This way you learn to control them fairly well before attempting to do the same in public.


Please note that symptoms such as this may not be due to anxiety especially if they suddenly develop for no reason you are aware of. It is vital to get checked out by your doctor before assuming that any physical symptom is due solely to anxiety.

Please note that symptoms such as this may not be due to anxiety especially if they suddenly develop for no reason you are aware of. It is vital to get checked out by your doctor before assuming that any physical symptom is due solely to anxiety.

Sometimes excessive anxiety makes you feel as if you are on alert all the time without knowing what it is you are afraid of. Follow link in image below to find out more about this symptom...