Debbie Schipp of news.om.au reports that a condition which makes people too petrified to poo in public means some Australians avoid going out because they fear not only using public toilets, but are also scared they won’t make it in time.
And the fear people might hear you doing a number two is worse than that of doing a number one (pee) researchers from Swineburne University found when they developed a scale aimed at assessing the anxiety people commonly experience when needing to use a public rest room.
Dr Simon Knowles is one of the study’s authors, and a clinical psychologist who specialises in gastrointestinal conditions and working with people with severe anxiety about using public toilets. His said both Paruresis (anxiety associated with urinating in public: shy bladder) and Parcopresis (anxiety related to having a bowel motion: shy bowel) can be so extreme people can struggle to socialise, study or even hold down a job because they only feel comfortable using their own toilet.
The study involving 334 adults reveals that shy bladder and shy bowel symptoms were both associated with increased stress, anxiety and depression.
“Those who experience toilet anxiety frequently worry about using a public toilet due to fears that others may hear or see them,” Dr Knowles said.
“Although the prevalence of toilet anxiety is not clear, it is suggested to be around six per cent to 35 per cent of the population may be affected to some degree.”
Dr Knowles developed his scale of toilet anxiety measure in an effort to better understand the causes of the condition, and tested it on the 300-plus people involved in the study.
Basically, the ‘how scared are you to poo scale’ will help experts to better judge whether general self consciousness has spiralled into full blown social anxiety. If it’s the latter, Dr Knowles says, you’re far from alone, and it’s treatable.
The results of the research were recently printed in the Journal of Cognitive Behaviour and more information and the survey are available at toiletanxiety.org