Here, you can find out everything you wanted to know about Toilet-Related Anxiety (or at least we hope so!). You can click (or touch) each of the headings below to find out more about specific aspects of the condition.
We hope you find the information useful and if you do, please feel free to share it.
We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but we all go to the toilet. You, me, the Queen, we all have to spend a penny (or two) at some point. Now, imagine having a intense fear of using the toilet! That is what those with toilet-related anxiety have to deal with on a daily basis.
Toilet-related anxiety is a fear of using toilets. They can be either your own, those in someone else's house, restaurants and even public conveniences. Anyone can be affected and the severity of the anxiety can range from mild, right up to causing major disruption to your daily life.
For many toilet-related anxiety is an umbrella term that covers a multitude of other problems. These can include:
- Social Anxiety; people noticing or hearing you using the toilet.
- Panic attacks / panic disorder; fear of being unable to use a public toilet.
- Phobia; the actual fear of the toilet itself or a toilet-related situation.
- Agoraphobia; the fear of leaving the house unless there is a 'safe' toilet. It also ties into the fear of soiling or wetting themselves so choose to stay at home.
- OCD; the worry that toilet is somehow contaminated or generally unclean.
- Parcopresis and paruresis; fear of defecating and urinating (respectively) in public areas.
Because of the nature of the condition, many people do not seek help or treatment due to embarrassment.
Toilet-related anxiety can affect anyone. It will create anxious thoughts when faced with using the toilet and can also cause problems when urinating or defecating (weeing and pooing to you and me!).
The symptoms will often be worse in public toilets or facilities that aren't in their own home. It can also affect those living with the condition in their own home, particularly when they have visitors.
Symptoms will generally increase when there are more people present (i.e. in public bathrooms) or when other people are in close proximity (i.e. using urinals in public toilets). The symptoms include:
- Consciously reducing how much you drink to lessen the need to use the toilet.
- Opting for cubicles rather than urinals.
- Avoiding social activities (parties, sporting events, festivals, holidays, etc.) where the use of the toilet may be limited or where there will be greater emphasis on the sharing of facilities.
Like many anxieties, it can be caused by a number of factors, none of which will necessarily apply to everyone. It can derive from an anxiety, fear or traumatic experience that may have taken place in a toilet, bathroom or public convenience.
Some believe it is learnt behaviour, which develops when someone close to you (parent or sibling) experiences toilet-related anxiety.
If you suffer with Toilet-Related Anxiety, there may be some organisations on our Where To Turn pages that can help you. If not, and you know of one, please let us know and we'll look into it.
Also, if you'd like to share your experiences of living with toilet-related anxiety with our community so they can better understand how it feels, please take a look at our 'Men Tell' section.