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Causes of Toilet Anxiety

There are a variety of factors that may contribute to toilet anxiety.

Past experience or trauma

Some individuals report that the onset of their toilet anxiety was associated with a difficult toilet experience, such as being rushed by another person, being teased in a public bathroom, or being unable to produce a urine sample for a medical or drug test.

Family history

Toilet anxiety may be learnt in childhood from the behavior of close family members. For example, if a father experiences anxiety around using public toilets, the child may interpret that toilets are not a safe place and take on his father’s fears.

Anxiety and fear

Anxiety, regardless of its cause, can affect the ability to urinate. Through a series of physiological processes, feelings of anxiety and fear can impact upon the function of the detrusor muscle and the external urethral sphincter, making it more difficult to urinate. In addition, failure to urinate, and concerns about failing in the future, may further increase anxiety.


Toilet anxiety is associated with a number of other psychological conditions, including social phobia, depression, alcohol problems, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Disclaimer: This website and its content is not intended or recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions.

© Copyright Dr Simon Knowles 2018