How Dehydration Can Cause Anxiety
We are all aware of the importance of keeping hydrated.
Most of us know that becoming dehydrated leads to a range of unpleasant physical symptoms, which become more serious and dangerous as our dehydration gets worse.
What we are less likely to consider is the fact that dehydration can also lead to anxiety. Add to this the fact that being anxious can cause further dehydration and we have a very unwelcome cycle.
What exactly is dehydration?
Put simply, dehydration is the state we find ourselves in when there is not enough fluid in our bodies. Approximately 60% of our bodies are made up of water.
Due to how we naturally lose water levels throughout the day, we need to replenish our water levels to avoid dehydration.
How do we become dehydrated?
Our bodies lose water naturally every day through sweating, urinating and the basic act of breathing. Other circumstances cause further loss of water from our bodies – and greater risk of dehydration if fluids are not replaced. These are:
- Prolonged and/or intense physical activity
- Living in a hot, humid or dry environment – exposure to extreme heat
- Consuming a high level of caffeinated drinks and/or spicy, salty or sugary foods
- Lack of hydrating foods such as fruit and vegetables
Physical conditions that require high levels of hydration
Certain physical conditions also require high levels of hydration. Some of these are:
- Expectant or nursing mothers need more water to ensure their bodies nurture their babies
- People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, need higher levels of fluid
- Anyone recovering from an infection, especially with a fever and/or vomiting, will need greater levels of fluid to replace those lost and to replenish the body
The tell-tale signs of dehydration
- Feeling thirsty (it should be noted that this is a symptom – dehydration in our bodies will already have started before we feel thirsty)
- Having less frequent trips for a pee and having a darker colour to our urine (it will also become darker still and have an acrid smell as we become severely dehydrated)
- Feeling dizzy or light-headed
- Becoming lethargic
- Having dry lips, mouth and eyes
Can dehydration cause anxiety?
In a word, yes. There is a clear link between symptoms of dehydration and an increase in our levels of anxiety. Lethargy and dizziness can lead to agitation. We can become confused and, in longer-term situations, depressed.
The confusion may also manifest itself as ‘brain fog’ which frequently results in panic attacks. As such, physical symptoms can have a negative effect on our mental well-being.
Can anxiety make you dehydrated?
Again, yes. Anxiety leads to a lowering of our mood and, as a result, we feel less well and content. Without our natural vigour and positive emotions, we can experience a loss of thirst and appetite which, ultimately, will lead to dehydration.
What can we do to prevent dehydration?
Adults should drink two litres of water every day to maintain a healthy level of hydration. Whilst this may sound like a lot, it should be noted that around 20% of our fluid intake comes from our food and other drinks such as herbal teas and juices. These can also contribute to our daily fluid requirement.
Remember, this is a daily requirement. Waiting until we feel thirsty is not the answer.
In fact, feeling thirsty tells us that we are already partially dehydrated.
Two litres of water is the minimum, but more water may be needed if we fall under any of the points listed above which can make us dehydrated. It is very important that we all drink more water, which may be supplemented with an electrolyte (a water-based drink that includes potassium, sodium, and sugar to aid rehydration).
What is chronic dehydration?
If we ignore the symptoms of dehydration, it can lead to chronic dehydration. This is a dangerous state for the body which places pressure on the organs, compromising their function and leading to health conditions such as poor kidney function, kidney stones, hypertension, urinary tract infection, intestinal failure, high blood pressure and even dementia.
It can take up to two weeks to reverse chronic dehydration and make a recovery by re-establishing optimum fluid levels. A quicker way to restore optimum hydration levels is to have an IV hydration drip containing saline and electrolytes as it is delivered quickly and directly into the bloodstream for a speedy recovery.
Commonly used in a hospital setting for patients, it can also be delivered by specially qualified medical practitioners in a private clinic setting. Two of our most popular treatments here are our Hydration IV Drip and our Chill Out IV Booster Drip.
Daily hydration habits that bring the most benefits
An IV drip should be the last resort to treat dehydration, and it’s far better to take action to prevent dehydration in the first place by:
- Having a glass of water first thing in the morning
- Having a glass of water with each meal
- Aim to have at least one glass of water between meals
- Cut down on alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
Finally, eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg – the water content will help with hydration while the high levels of vitamins and minerals will give your body and brain a welcome boost.