Bedwetting: Anxiety, ADHD and Genetics
Children who struggle with bedwetting are more likely to experience anxiety, panic attacks, school phobia, social anxiety and separation anxiety. Research has also shown that children who experience bedwetting are significantly more likely to have stress or anxiety issues than children who do not wet the bed. So you can see it can be a bit of a vicious cycle.
So how does stress lead to bedwetting?
There's a hormone the body produces and it’s called Vasopressin. It’s job is to regulate how much wee we produce at night. It’s also known to be affected by anxiety. So when a child is anxious, their body can run low on vasopressin. Meaning, they might produce too much wee for the bladder to hold at night, therefore creating a night-time accident.
Stress or anxiety can also cause children to drink too much fluids just before bedtime or it may cause them to forget to visit the toilet before they go to bed.
The other one is ADHD. Bedwetting is more common in people with ADHD, especially children. ADHD doesn’t cause bedwetting but it can contribute to the problem. It’s not totally clear why bedwetting is a common problem for kids with ADHD. Some researchers think it’s because bedwetting and ADHD are both linked to a delay in the development of the central nervous system.
Another possible reason is that kids with ADHD have a harder time paying attention to bodily cues. They may not wake up enough at night to realise that their bladder is full. Or they might not wake up at all when their bladder is full.
Genetics might also play a role. Bedwetting runs in families. ADHD does too.
That leads me onto the next topic, and that is genetics! The bedwetting gene is strong among families.
If a child has one parent who struggled with bedwetting then their risk factor increases to 50%.
And if both parents had enuresis? Both parents, then this risk factor increases to 75%.
Even close relatives, like aunts, uncles and grandparents may also share this gene, which is highly likely you wouldn’t even know!
On the other hand, a child with no family connection to bedwetting has around a 15% chance of being a bedwetter.