Beat the Blues with Upbeat Strategies
Urinary incontinence can sometimes take an emotional toll on men. Feelings of isolation and embarrassment often lead to social withdrawal and even depression.
Part of the reason men with incontinence can feel depressed is that they mistakenly believe they can no longer do the things they used to enjoy doing.
Remember, incontinence does not need to control your life. Here are some great ways to boost your mental outlook and confidence – and to stay positive!
Open up. Discussing feelings and concerns is often difficult for most men, yet it's tremendously beneficial and rewarding. Talk to someone you trust—your doctor, your wife, a family member or a close friend. If you're not comfortable talking about your feelings, write them down in a letter or a journal. No matter how you choose to open up, the most important thing is to let your feelings out.
Find strength in numbers. Millions of men deal with incontinence, which means millions of men probably feel just the way you do. Support groups can put you in contact with others who relate to your situation and experiences, and who can share helpful ideas for managing and coping with bladder control problems. Your doctor can provide you with information on support groups in your area.
Challenge yourself mentally. Give yourself something to look forward to by planning activities you enjoy each week. Immerse yourself in a passionate hobby that engages your mind and expands your creativity. Or take up a new pastime that's fun and helps to relax you, such as woodworking, learning to play an instrument or playing chess.
Stay active physically. Exercise is an important part of maintaining mental health. Studies have shown that exercise can be as just as effective as medication in treating depression.* Physical activity gets your blood flowing, clears your head and relieves stress. If you're not comfortable with long, strenuous activities, you can plan light exercise, such as walking, in small increments. Consult your doctor before starting any new physical activity.
Help others. There are numerous ways to help people in your community. Seek out volunteer opportunities. Helping others is a rewarding experience that can make you feel better about yourself and your situation.
Seek professional help. If you feel depressed, isolated or unmotivated, your incontinence may be the cause of those feelings or it may one of several other contributing factors behind your feelings. You may benefit from talking with a therapist, counselor or other mental health professional. Your doctor's office is a great place to ask for referrals.
*Duke University (1999, October 27). Exercise May Be Just As Effective As Medication For Treating Major Depression. ScienceDaily.