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How to stop anxiety urination

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What is anxiety urination?CausesTreatment optionsPreventionSummary
Anxiety urination is when you urinate frequently due to anxiety or stress. To help reduce this symptom, you can try prescribed medications or practice stress management techniques.
Medically reviewed by Ifeanyi Olele, DO, MBA, MS
Written by Rashida Ruwa, RN
Updated on

Anxiety can have various physical symptoms, including an overactive bladder (OAB). Stress activates your body’s fight-or-flight response, increasing adrenaline and alertness. 

While this response can help you in dangerous situations, chronic anxiety can have harmful effects on your health. One of these is frequent urination even when your bladder is not full. 

Yet several treatment options can help, such as medication, bladder training, and behavioral therapies.

What is anxiety urination?

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Anxiety urination, also sometimes called nervous bladder, refers to a frequent urge to urinate when you’re under stress or experiencing anxiety, even if your bladder is empty.

Several studies have explored the relationship between anxiety and urinary symptoms. A 2016 study involving people with OAB found a strong relationship between anxiety and OAB or other urinary incontinence symptoms.

The study reported that participants who had anxiety reported more severe incontinence or OAB symptoms than those without anxiety. 

Another 2021 study found evidence that chronic psychological stress can lead to symptoms such as:

  • urinary frequency
  • urinary urgency
  • incontinence
  • pelvic pain

What are the causes of anxiety urination?

Anxiety urination can have various causes, including:

Overactive bladder

OAB occurs due to spontaneous, involuntary contractions of the bladder muscles, leading to urinary urgency and frequency. Anxiety can contribute to or worsen the symptoms of OAB.  

Research suggests that anxiety can activate the sympathetic nervous system, which manages the bladder muscles. This may increase bladder contractions and result in anxiety urination.

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Stress and emotional triggers

Emotional distress, anxiety disorders, or high stress situations can stimulate the body’s fight-or-flight response, releasing stress hormones and activating the sympathetic nervous system. This physiological response can directly influence bladder function by causing increased urgency or frequency of urination.

Pelvic floor muscle tension

Anxiety often leads to increased muscle tension in the muscles surrounding the bladder and the pelvic floor, which can affect your ability to manage your bladder and contribute to urinary symptoms.

This muscle tension can create a sensation of urinary urgency even when your bladder is not full and can interfere with the regular coordination of bladder filling and emptying.

Treatment options for anxiety urination

Effective treatment for anxiety urination involves managing the underlying causes of the condition. Depending on the severity and underlying causes, a doctor may recommend medication or nonpharmacological strategies.


  • Antimuscarinic medications: These medications block the action of a chemical messenger that triggers bladder contractions to treat OAB symptoms. Medications such as oxybutynin (Ditropan) and tolterodine (Detrol) may significantly reduce urinary urgency and frequency caused by OAB. 
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): These drugs increase serotonin levels in the brain, which helps regulate mood and reduces anxiety. Common examples include:
  • Buspirone: Buspirone (BuSpar) is a medication that works by affecting serotonin receptors in the brain. Doctors often prescribe it for generalized anxiety disorder, but it may help reduce anxiety urination.

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Nonpharmacological strategies

Making lifestyle changes and developing coping mechanisms can significantly ease anxiety urination symptoms, especially if medication is not an option or if symptoms are mild. 

These strategies may include:

  • Overactive bladder training: This training involves gradually waiting longer between bathroom visits to retrain the bladder. This method can effectively increase bladder capacity and reduce urinary frequency and urgency.
  • Behavioral therapy: This can involve several strategies, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help identify and address negative thoughts and beliefs that may contribute to anxiety urination, empowering you to adopt healthier coping mechanisms.
  • Dietary changes: Following healthful eating patterns like the Mediterranean diet and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake may help treat OAB symptoms. 
  • Stress management: Reducing stress levels through meditation, yoga, or regular physical activity can help reduce the frequency and severity of anxiety urination symptoms. 

How can you prevent anxiety urination?

Several measures may significantly ease symptoms and improve overall bladder health. But keep in mind that they will not eliminate anxiety urination altogether.

Examples of strategies to help prevent anxiety urination include:

  • Maintaining a regular bathroom schedule: Establish a regular routine by urinating at set intervals, even if there is no immediate urge to urinate. This can help train the bladder to hold urine for longer periods and reduce the frequency of anxiety-driven urinating.
  • Practicing stress-reduction techniques: Deep breathing exercises can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. These techniques can reduce urinary symptoms caused by stress.
  • Seeking support: Seek support from healthcare professionals, therapists, or support groups to help manage and reduce anxiety levels and learn coping mechanisms.
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake: Caffeine and alcohol can irritate the bladder and increase urinary urgency. Reducing or avoiding these drinks, especially in the evening, can help minimize urinary symptoms.
  • Increasing fiber intake: A fiber-rich diet can prevent constipation, often leading to urinary frequency and urgency. Consuming fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help maintain regular bowel movements, reducing bladder irritability.


Anxiety urination may require several treatment options, such as medication and lifestyle measures, to manage underlying anxiety and urinary symptoms.

You can try to develop healthy bladder habits, such as establishing a regular bathroom schedule and limiting fluid intake. Managing stress levels through relaxation techniques and seeking support can also help reduce anxiety-related bladder issues.

Anxiety urination symptoms may present differently in each individual. A healthcare professional can help you identify effective and personalized treatment options to treat anxiety urination.

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