Oxford Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

November Blog


Need to go, Can't Go? Toilet Phobia

12-11-2014 Oxford CBT Toilet Phobia
Need to go? Can't go? Toilet Phobia

What is toilet phobia? Toilet phobia is a term for various aspects of toilet anxiety.or difficulty in using the toilet, usually public toilets or "unsafe" or "unusual" toilets.


Toilet phobia can stop you from living life to the full, it may stop you going to social functions, it may distance you from friends and family all for fear of going to the loo. Toilet phobia can take either or both of the following forms - paruresis (urinating phobia) or parcopresis (defecating phobia). It may be centred around using public or strange toilets, in order to avoid having to go while you are out, so leading to agoraphobia or OCD where the fear or anxiety is connected to the hygiene of the toilet, putting paper towels on the seat or opening the door with paper in your hand. It can even be in your own home, having to have your own personal toilet for fear of cross contamination from others in the house. Paruresis is quite a common problem, with nearly 4 million people in the UK being unable to urinate in public toilets, and that is just the ones who have owned up to having a problem.


What causes toilet phobia?

Causes can be:

  • From Social Phobia - worries that someone is listening or watching you use the toilet
  • From specific and non specific fear or anxiety - such as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) worries that the toilet is contaminated or unclean. Agoraphobia the person worries that they may soil themselves if they don't have a "safe" toilet to visit and combined with if they leave what they deem to be a "safe" area or locality. Panic attacks the person worries that they may not be able to use the toilet in a public place.
  • From past trauma – from a specific event or events in the past
  • From learned behaviour – for example passed on from a family member

The triggers and anxiety and behaviours can all lead to a vicious circle as illustrated in our toilet phobia diagram:

Toilet Phobia diagram

No one is the same so it is important to pinpoint the cause so that the right kind of treatment can be given to you. The recommended treatment for toilet phobia is CBT or talking therapy. This can help with breaking the vicious cycle of your phobia or anxiety.


Oxford CBT can get you some help today


Cope with seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

27-11-2014 Oxford CBT Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder, get treatment

When the leaves begin falling from the trees and the nights draw in, it is usual for people to feel a little down in the dumps. If the change in season affects you more than usual and you struggle with feelings of lethargy, depression, sleeping longer avoiding going out, not socialising and perhaps over doing reaching for the carb laden comfort food, then doing less exercise which in turn makes you feel sluggish and lowers your mood and motivation. These are all signs that you may have the onset of the winter blues or SAD. As many as 1 in 8 people are affected by seasonal depression.


Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Name Type Production in the body Affecting
Serotonin Hormone, Neruortransmitter Neurons in the brain Mood, appetite, sleep, digestion, libido
Melatonin Hormone, Neruortransmitter Light hits the retina, retina sends a signal to the hypothalamus to tell the pineal gland to produce melatonin Mood, appetite, sleep, digestion, libido
Circadian Rhythm Body clock Using sun or light to regulate your body’s biological processes Sleep, mood, appetite, digestion, energy levels

SAD is a treatable condition, you should initially approach your GP for diagnosis.


Treatment or combinations of treatments available are:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – a talking therapy with no ill effects
  • Antidepressant tablets - these may have side effects such as constipation, drowsiness, feeling sick or dizzy.
  • Light box – the treatment in a box, exposure to extra bright lighting from 30 minutes to 6 hours dependent on the strength of the bulbs or LUX and distance of where you sit in relation to the box. A good light box will cost on average over £100 to buy and is not suitable for people with macular degenerative disease, retinal disease and people who are on some photosensitive drugs such as some antibiotics, people suffering from hypertension and cancer drugs.
  • Healthy diet and exercise – are two natural ways to elevate mood. Reach for the good carbs such as bright coloured veggies instead of raiding the biscuit tin. Do at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, even if it’s dancing energetically to the radio.

Oxford Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Oxford CBT) can help you by talking with you and teaching you mindful thinking, advise you of strategies to recognise and avert a potentially debilitating mood swing and other effects associated with SAD or winter depression. Oxford CBT can help you to put in place and monitor new routines which promote health and well being, motivating exercise and healthy eating.


Book some sessions today