Surprising Symptom of Stress: Constantly Urinating

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM

Constantly Urinating? You May Be Stressed

Constantly urinating can stress you out. If you find yourself constantly running to the restroom throughout the day, in excess of three liters, it may be caused by an underlying condition. Constantly urinating is a pretty common symptom that many people may have experienced at one or more times in their lives. A survey of people experiencing frequent, or constantly, urinating showed that over 64 percent of them would urinate soon after drinking fluids. This could be due to being in a state of distress in which they find themselves feeling the urge to go to the restroom more frequently throughout the day. This will feel as though any fluids consumed just pass straight through the body and out.

When it comes to stress affecting how constantly you are urinating, it can come down to three hormones produced by your adrenal glands. They are epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, cortisol and aldosterone, all which have influence on how well your body holds fluids and controls the frequency of urinating.

Simply put, if you are experiencing stress in an immediate moment that goes away after a short period, your body will produce more adrenaline which will result in your body increasing the rate of urine leaving your body. So it begs the question, why do we all, in moments of stress and nervousness, visit the restroom? One of the explanations is that because you are stressed or nervous, your body is tensed, which leads to your muscles also getting tense and squeezing your bladder, which makes you feel like constantly urinating. The release of epinephrine in the body will result in the body entering a fight or flight mode. When the body is in this state, it produces and releases epinephrine which will make you want to urinate more frequently.

It’s a bit different when you’re experiencing stress that is longer lasting or chronic. In chronic stress, the body responds differently to short term stress, by releasing a different hormone known as cortisol.

Cortisol is one of the main hormones used in our bodies to deal with stressful impacts on the body’s organs and systems. Cortisol is necessary for our lives, as it helps us stay awake and alert, in order to be responsive to our surrounding environment. When the level of cortisol increases, our anti-diuretic hormones also decrease. Anti-diuretic hormones are there to help control our flow of urine. Your high levels of cortisol may also be in line with you feeling tired or perhaps gaining weight, even though your physical activity or food habits have not changed.

It is not pleasant to be constantly urinatingAnother cause of constant urination could be adrenal fatigue. When you have adrenal fatigue, your adrenal glands are weakened, and it can also result in you having lower levels of aldosterone. Aldosterone is a steroid hormone that acts similarly to cortisol. Produced by our adrenal glands, it helps regulate the salt levels in your body and control your blood pressure. In turn, this makes it also responsible for distributing fluids around your body. Having a low count of aldosterone is the link between adrenal fatigue and constant urination, as people in a constant state of adrenal fatigue have weakened adrenal glands. So if the low levels of aldosterone mismanage your salt levels, you end up with less salt in your body, which can lead to you having cravings for salty foods such as a burger and fries.

From an evolutionary adaptive perspective, the theory goes that back in the ‘caveman days’, when a person was experiencing stress, it was likely to be a threat to their survival. So in those cases, the body would respond by releasing any excess weight that may slow down your fight or flight response. This may have carried over to modern times, where stress may not necessarily immediately be a situation where your life hangs in the balance, but the body responds in a way as if it is.

Stress should not be considered as just a mental or emotional influence on your body, because it has just as much ability to affect your body as a virus or infection would. As they say, the body follows the mind and the mind follows the body. It goes to show that how you are feeling emotionally can have a great impact on how you feel physically. Take care of yourself by limiting or eliminating the stressful impacts in your life and assist in your adrenal fatigue recovery with adrenal breathing exercises to bring balance to your thoughts and feelings.

How Does Having Adrenal Fatigue Influence Having Increased Urination?

Adrenal fatigue and stress have a strong relationship, and in many instances, they come hand in hand. Adrenal fatigue is a condition affecting many adults in the United States and around the world. It is not simple to diagnose, as it shares common signs and symptoms with many other conditions. It is not, at the moment, recognized as a medical condition. However, there is good reason to believe that if this scenario occurs when our adrenal glands are weakened due to stress, it can give a sufferer symptoms that negatively affect their quality of life. One of the symptoms is constantly urinating which, as you can imagine be quite a frustrating experience and can affect your work or social life – not to mention also keeping you up at night as you wake frequently to go to the bathroom. Among the other signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue: gaining weight – especially around your waist, which then proves troublesome to lose, getting the flu or cold all the time, having a reduced sex drive, and/or cravings for salty and fatty foods such as ribs and burgers.

Feeling unpleasant due to constantly urinatingWith the adrenal glands not working properly, they can’t output the correct levels of hormones your body needs to keep your fluids in balance. Adrenaline increases to help respond to the stressful impact you are currently experiencing, and with a great deal of stress, the body has to treat it like it might be a survival situation (i.e. a matter of life and death). The increased levels of adrenaline will make you constantly urinate. The body needs cortisol to deal with stress, but too much of it and the result is decreased control of your fluids once again which causes you to pass fluids more easily. It is clear to see that stress not only direct impacts you not being able to control your bladder well, but also leads to adrenal fatigue, which further compounds the inability of your body to control constantly urinating.

Constantly Urinating: The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response

This can be seen as a government in your body that is responsible for making policies in your organs to help it manage your stress levels. It is a complicated system, containing many parts of your body, including organs. When you are experiencing great heights of stress in your life, it could be from having to meet deadlines at work. Maybe you’re having trouble getting your work completed, or it could be something in your personal life, such as the loss of a loved one. These stresses currently experienced in your life are changing the way your body functions. The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) response is there to help you. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed, the body can be put in a mode in which it feels it is overloaded. This shows strong ties between stress that leads to adrenal fatigue and the body’s defensive response via the NEM stress complex that can lead to symptoms such as frequent urination.

One of the key responses in the NEM stress complex is the hormonal response, which is regulated by a few organs – such as the adrenals. As was mentioned earlier, adrenal glands are responsible for releasing certain tools in your body to cope with stress levels. With someone affected by adrenal fatigue, the adrenal glands will produce too much cortisol. Not only does this make us urinate more frequently, it can affect other parts of our body as well. It can feel like you lack the energy to do anything anymore. You may find exercise extremely hard to do, and in some more serious cases miscarriages can occur.

Constantly urinating can be controlled. So, it’s important to identify aspects of your life that are getting in the way of your happiness or causing you to have anxiety and undue stress. When you are experiencing stress that is more immediate, give your body and mind time to recover from the active stress response, so that you can go back to feeling your normal self. It could take about 20 minutes for your body to calm and recover. This can be normal and shouldn’t be cause for alarm. If you’re experiencing stress that is ongoing, the time your body needs to recover and calm down may be longer – to the point where symptoms such as constantly urinating could be eliminated. The good news is you can rid yourself of annoying frequent visits to the restroom if your body fully recovers from the stressful state it was in. You can help yourself recover by practicing adrenal breathing exercises to help you relax as well. Lastly, stay well hydrated with adequate electrolyte balance.

© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

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