Having anxiety about needing the toilet is surprisingly common. We probably see 2 or 3 new cases a week.
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What triggers toilet anxiety fear?
Although every case is different, they all share similar characteristics. The typical triggers generally involve believing they will need to use the toilet but for some reason, it will be difficult.
Generally, the reasons will be quite specific and often very narrow. for example, anxiety when travelling i.e. it might be whilst driving and encountering a traffic jam or it could be whilst out shopping and being unable to find a public toilet.
They will often try to use the toilet frequently before going out, sometimes 5 or 6 times. They will often avoid eating or drinking before going out as well.
What causes it in the first place?
This anxiety can be caused at any stage in life however it is mostly generated as a child. It could be if you soiled yourself in public or just thought you might. It can even be set up by a parent making you use the toilet before leaving the house. If a situation is perceived as “dangerous” i.e. what happens if I need the toilet and don’t make it… It is this perception and prediction that will generate feelings of anxiety around the subject.
Now, although it might start with a silly thought or incident. The beliefs and perceptions can grow and increase as time passes, and what was “just a silly thought” becomes a deep-seated belief that you will have an accident in public. This creates a strong sense of danger. i.e. danger of embarrassment.
It does not have to start as a child often it might be an incident that takes place as an adult that plants the seed and the beliefs grow in the same way.
It can of course be a learnt behaviour. i.e. one learnt from another person close to you normally a parental figure but it can be a sibling or even a friend.
What is toilet anxiety?
This type of agoraphobia behaviour can be very debilitating indeed for the sufferer. They may not go out socially to things like restaurants or the movies, even though they know that there are toilets there. They may not travel on public transport, even trains or coaches with toilets on board.
The anxiety is heightened when there is only one toilet. As they will worry that someone will be using it when they need to use it. So they may get very anxious at a party for example if a queue for the toilet develops.
They may become very anxious in these sorts of situations. Sometimes they can have a panic attack at a party or social situation and have to return home where they feel safe.
Is this your journey to work?
This anxiety needs no evidence
Even though the sufferer may have never had the experience where they have wet or soiled themselves in public, and have no evidence that it will indeed ever happen. The lack of evidence will do nothing to lessen the fear.
They may, for example, need the toilet and have to hold it for an hour or more. This for most people would be evidence that they are capable of holding it for a reasonable amount of time to facilitate getting to a toilet. However, for the sufferer, this simple piece of evidence will be completely ignored as that does not fit in with their current beliefs.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) sufferers often suffer from toilet anxiety and it will quite often exacerbate the IBS by raising stress levels, which of course feeds their anxiety.
How can hypnotherapy help with toilet anxiety?
This anxiety can only exist if the client has the belief that they will not make it to the toilet. For most people, this fear is tempered by the belief that they can hold it until they reach a toilet. Essentially it is a confidence issue, the confidence in their body to deal with the situation when it arises.
When this issue is treated with medication, CBT, psychotherapy, counselling and general hypnotherapy techniques, we believe, that it actually makes it worse. Now the people that try to help are definitely doing their best to solve the problem, but it’s my belief that for this particular anxiety, the usual therapeutic interventions often make it worse in the long run.
How to stop toilet anxiety
By using hypnotherapy we are able to deliver the suggestion directly to the subconscious part of the mind. Once that suggestion is taken on by the subconscious, the beliefs change and then ultimately the behaviours fall in line.
There may be numerous situations that trigger their fears. However, normally we only have to tackle a few of them before the subconscious gets the message. At that point, the fear collapses and the anxiety falls away.
How common is toilet anxiety?
This is such a big problem that we now have a team of specialists that treat this problem. Now that we can work over the internet we are able to help people worldwide but we are just scratching the surface of this problem.
The specialists at the Surrey Institute have vast experience dealing with toilet anxiety and can generally resolve it within 4 to 6 sessions. If you have Crohn’s or IBS you might need a few more sessions to resolve your toilet anxiety
This complex, multi-faceted anxiety is treated by my team and I on a daily basis. We spend our entire day talking about pee and poo.
The vast majority of my clients are able to recover fully and start living a normal life, even those who have had this anxiety so long, that they don’t know or remember what normal is.
If you have toilet anxiety, be rest assured that you do not have to live with it and the problems it brings. So don’t suffer any more. Get in touch to see how we can help. By using our specialist hypnotherapy process for toilet anxiety we can help you to get rid of it for good.
If you would like to find out more about treating other anxiety issues please visit our main anxiety page.
Not nearby? No Problem
Since the COVID pandemic, we have been working with clients to help them overcome their toilet anxiety online. The interesting thing is that it appears to be just as effective as in-person sessions. We are now working with clients from all over the globe and helping them to return to a more “normal” and carefree life.