PFD with Anxiety & Depression? YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
By Lara Desrosiers, OT
I am thrilled that there is a growing amount of attention being brought to the fact that Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (i.e. leaking, pelvic girdle pain, pelvic pain, painful sex, pelvic organ prolapse, even low back pain) is common but NOT normal! Check out Claire Baker’s Tedx Talk to learn more about this! It is a must watch!
There are practitioners available, such as Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists, with special training in pelvic health that can help you to make a plan to resolve these symptoms!
BUT..did you know that it is also VERY COMMON to struggle with your emotional wellness (i.e. depression, anxiety, grief, preoccupation, body image) if you experience any form of pelvic floor dysfunction?
This makes sense right?
Pelvic floor dysfunction can disrupt our routines, basic bodily functions, relationships, and ability to participate in the activities that we love.
Pelvic floor dysfunction does not occur in a vacuum. In fact, it often occurs during times when we have a TON of other stuff going on (i.e. hormonal shifts, changing roles and responsibilities) such as in pregnancy, postpartum, in peri-menopause and in menopause.
The physical rehabilitation process itself often impacts mental health. The rehabilitation process usually involves bringing our attention and awareness to very deep muscles that are often not even on our radar until something has gone wrong. Many people describe becoming completely preoccupied by and distracted by the sensations in these parts of the body as they embark on their rehabilitation
Did you also know that your emotional wellness will have an effect on your physical recovery?
This ALSO makes sense right?
Your mindset and expectations for recovery will effect HOW you engage in your rehabilitation.
Anxiety, preoccupation with symptoms or past negative experiences doing “too much too soon” may make you fearful to move in certain ways or to continue taking steps towards your recovery goals. This can make the recovery process slow and daunting.
Stress can create tension in our deep core muscles and change how we hold our bodies in ways that can make pelvic health symptoms worse.
Stress can also “live” in our nervous systems. Fear, anxiety, depression can contribute to the nervous system undergoing a process called “sensitization”, or adapting to the belief that we NEED MORE PROTECTION! Protective symptoms, such as pain or heaviness are then produced more readily. Our body can adapt to being in a state of OVER PROTECTION!
AHHHHHH!!! SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? AND WHAT CAN I DO?
#1 It means that you are not alone in this!
#2 It means that tools to support your emotional wellness are a critical component of your pelvic health recovery and should be a part of your rehabilitation plan!
Unfortunately, emotional wellness is often considered separate & secondary in pelvic health rehabilitation. This needs to change!