woman with depression and incontinence

Down In The Dumps: Depression & Incontinence

Here at Lily Bird we like to bring in the heavy hitters so you all get expertise and advice from the best of the best. That’s because telling your bladder who’s boss is better as a team sport. This week’s article is from our friends at the National Center for Continence. Thanks to Sarah for the collaboration.


Depression & Incontinence Are Linked

You know the feeling – you’re having an off day, you can’t get motivated, you’re feeling a bit down. We’ve all been there. But then imagine those feelings multiplied by 1,000. And imagine not being able to turn those feelings around. Depression is a real thing. It can happen to anyone, and can be caused by a host of different reasons. But, did you know that being incontinent has actually been linked to being depressed?

Incontinence affects over 35 million Americans. While it may seem like a mere inconvenience to some, for those who have it, it can be life altering. It’s been reported that women with severe incontinence are actually 80% more likely to have depression than their continent peers. And while that number may not surprise you, even women with mild to moderate incontinence symptoms are 40% more likely to be depressed.

How Does Incontinence Contribute To Depression?

It’s likely a variety of factors, both physical and emotional.

The Physical Connection

The physical impact of incontinence is fairly obvious. People with incontinence tend to be burdened with the ongoing upkeep of appearances. They keep a spare change of clothes in their bag, they scout out the nearest restrooms when they are out, and avoid things that may trigger their condition. These are all preventative attempts to get ahead of the condition.

And, on the flip side, they’re dealing with the aftermath of incontinence – changing clothes, laundering sheets, and changing absorbent protection. This never-ending cycle can be wearisome and can contribute to their overall sense of well-being.

Mental & Emotional Impacts

Now, let’s move on to the emotional impact of incontinence. Those living with incontinence, even if it’s a minor inconvenience, are still deeply affected by the emotional impact of the condition.

There is a great feeling of shame and embarrassment that comes from being incontinent. Many live with the fear of others finding out, and go to great lengths to hide their condition, even from close friends, family, partners or even doctors. This can sometimes even lead to limiting their social interactions with people, preferring to stay close to home where they don’t have to worry about accidents or leaks. Their relationships start to suffer, and even their work-life may be affected. And, there’s a feeling of not being in control – so many sufferers feel that their condition actually controls them.

Over time, these physical and emotional impacts can start affecting incontinence sufferers on a deeper level.  They feel ashamed of their condition, and may isolate themselves from those they love and care about, leading them down the path of depression.

What Can You Do?

If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you, or someone you know, suffer from some type of incontinence. It’s important for you to know that this condition affects many people and that you are not alone.

Options For Treating Incontinence

There are also many things you can do to treat both incontinence, and depression. No one should suffer in silence. Finding the right absorbent product can help you feel both protected and in control. And learning more about the many ways to treat your incontinence (and there are many – physical therapy, medication, in-office procedures, and even surgery) can empower you to seek help. The National Association For Continence has an extensive amount of information, tools, and support to help you navigate your condition.

Get Help For Depression

If you find yourself feeling down much of the time, be sure to to talk to your doctor about ways you can treat depression. Your doctor will be able to get you started on a treatment that can help you start to turn things around.  In addition to that, you may want to try simple things like getting some good exercise (which, by the way, can help with incontinence too!), eating a healthy diet or even calling a friend can do wonders in turning your mood around.

Still nervous to talk to your doctor? Don’t be. Your doctor has likely heard from and treated many people like you – you won’t be the first, and you definitely won’t be the last.

Find A Support Group

One last note on incontinence and depression: This condition (and trying to keep it secret) can sometimes make you feel like an outsider. You may feel like you have no one to talk to, which can lead to real loneliness.  If this sounds familiar, try logging on to the free message boards at the National Association For Continence website. It’s a great community of people who are all suffering from similar problems. Sharing and listening to others can do wonders for your mental health, and you may even learn some new tips or tricks for managing your condition. Learn more about the message boards and how to sign up here: www.nafc.org/message-boards.


Guest Post By The National Center For Continence

About The National Association For Continence

NAFC is a national, private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with incontinence, voiding dysfunction, and related pelvic floor disorders. Our objectives are to take the stigma out of incontinence, promote prevention, motivate individuals to seek treatment and provide collaborative advocacy and service for those who are affected by incontinence. Our website, www.nafc.org, is designed to provide important education on incontinence conditions and related issues, assist professionals and caregivers in the treatment and management process and create a community where those dealing with incontinence can find information and support to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. https://www.nafc.org