Dehydration and Anxiety: 7 Amazing Connections

Recent research has proved that dehydration and anxiety are related. The more dehydrated you stay for long hours risk of stress and anxiety increases. If most of the time one remains stressed, try to stay properly hydrated.

Long working culture and continuous efforts to strike balance in all spheres of life leave us stressed. Working under pressure is a culture we have adopted. In a fast-moving life, sometimes we feel dejected and stressed out.

Stress is when our mind and body cannot cope with the pressure. During depression and anxiety, one seeks the help of a mental health professional.

We have a glass full of remedy which is just a hand away or might be in your hand. WATER! Yes, a glass of water can help you when you are stressed.

depression and anxiety
Image by Anthony Tran from Unsplash, Copyright May 2018

The fundamental is easy to understand our body is made of 60-70 % water. It is as essential as any other nutrient.

Water carries nutrients, minerals, and electrolytes to various parts of the body. These electrolytes help in the working of muscles. Electrolytes are found in blood and have electric charges that keep your body’s energy high.

If you are thirsty for hours, your muscles could feel the tension. Dehydration1 makes you feel low. Staying hydrated can lift your mood by increasing the secretion of happy hormones.

1. Connecting Dehydration and Anxiety

Ever felt anxious about incomplete tasks, or anxiety build up in your mind whenever pressure increases? Our mind succumbs to the tension and pressure build-up by situations that take the form of stress, uneasiness, and sometimes, depression and anxiety.

Whenever under stress, the adrenal gland releases a large amount of cortisol hormone2 or stress hormone. With the increased level of cortisol hormone, our body starts consuming more water, and we feel more dehydrated and thirsty. Dehydration and anxiety have a strong relationship.

The same happens if one stays dehydrated for long hours body starts producing cortisol hormone. It will help if you stay properly hydrated whenever working under stress or pressure, which many people fail to follow. Water will calm your mind and body.

You will be surprised to know that our brain constitutes up to 75 % water. Dehydration and anxiety can affect the brain’s functioning and cause dizziness.

Dehydration triggers blood pressure and results in stress. As water decreases in our body level of salt increases in our blood, causing higher blood pressure. this high blood pressure can lead to anxiety and depression

Dehydration and anxiety will go hand in hand and break this chain, and one must drink enough water.

2. Dehydration Affect Mood

Dehydration affects mood in drastic ways. Our brain secretes a chemical called Dopamine3 which is also called a happy brain chemical and keeps you going.

During the stress period, our body produces the hormone cortisol or stress hormone. In such a situation, the relationship between dehydration and anxiety is evident.

Whenever under stress or anxiety adrenal gland releases cortisol in large amounts. The increased level of cortisol negatively affects Dopamine, and the level of Dopamine decreases.

water intake
Image by Laura Mitulla from Unsplash, Copyright June 2019

Once Dopamine starts declining, the stress hormone increases, making you feel more anxious. This depression increases thirst, and your feeling of dehydration and anxiety will improve.

Sometimes Dopamine levels are already low, which naturally increases cortisol, and again, the whole cycle moves to make you depressed. Intake of the right amount of water can help to increase Dopamine and decrease cortisol.

Water being a carrier agent, carries Dopamine to the brain and makes you feel happy. One has another reason to stay hydrated as water is comfortable, and hormone friendly.

Another hormone called Serotonin is a mood decider. It helps to regulate your mood and happiness. It is for your well-being. Serotonin helps the brain to communicate with the nervous system and send them signals. Dehydration and anxiety make your mind slow and sluggish.

Serotonin is helpful in the cognitive development of the brain. In the deficiency of this hormone, the person is likely to feel stressed, and anxiety builds up. Dehydration can cause a decrease in levels of Serotonin, and it can negatively affect your mood.

3. Signs of Dehydration and Anxiety

Your body will signal you whenever it needs water. Signs of dehydration are evident if one wants to notice. Dry mouth and tongue, dizziness, feeling dull, muscle tension, fatigue, and dry skin are signs that one must not ignore.

Dehydration makes your pee change its colour to dark yellow and reduces the amount you are peeing. Staying hydrated and having a glass or 2 of water will help you.

4. Decoding Dehydration

staying properly hydrated
Image by Manki Kim from Unsplash, Copyright February 2019

When the water from the body is lost at a pace higher than you are replenishing, it can cause dehydration. It is age-old advice to have eight glasses of water a day—our body loses water while sweating and urinating.

When working under the sun for long hours, sweating heavily, or having any ailment like vomiting and diarrhoea, dehydration and anxiety will appear under such situations if you don’t drink water.

Staying hydrated all the time can make your muscles and mind coordinate better. People who work out more are at risk of muscle wear and tear more need to drink more water frequently.

Dehydration is common in infants a is caused by vomiting and diarrhoea. In adults, it can be because of chronic ailments, insufficient water intake, and increased heartbeat after working out can also add to this list.

water a day
Image by LuAnn Hunt from Unsplash, Copyright 

5. Types of Dehydration

It is also preferable to know your type of dehydration.

5.1. Hypotonic Dehydration

It is severe dehydration caused by medical conditions like vomiting or diarrhoea. In this water, replenishment with other nutrients is a must.

5.2. Isotonic Dehydration

It is also called mild dehydration which is caused by excessive sweating or due to low water consumption.

Mild dehydration4 should also be kept in check. Mild dehydration is a condition when your body loses a low level of water and salts from your body. Even a loss of 2% water content from your body can make it mildly dehydrated.

This mild dehydration can have severe effects, especially during summer. Headaches, dizziness, and even constipation can result from mild dehydration—next time you feel constipated, increase your water intake to get relief.

6. How To Cure Dehydration

When feeling dehydrated, you need to drink lots of water and ORS solution5 to regain lost fluids. It will also help in recovering fast. You can add sugar and salt to a glass of water at home to make an ORS solution.

7. A Few Tips To Keep Yourself Hydrated

These tips for STAYING HYDRATED will transform your SKIN, HAIR and HEALTH!

7.1. To Keep Dehydration at Bay Follow:

  • Always carry a water bottle whenever going out.
  • Take a few sips every half an hour or every 15 minutes if it is hot outside.
  • Don’t stay dehydrated.
  • Can opt for other liquids like lemonade or homemade ORS.
  • Add water by adding more juice to your meals.
  • You can follow a liquid diet.
  • Add more citrus fruit and coconut water to your diet.

7.2. Natural Food That Increases Water in Your Body

  • Coconut water can help one restore lost electrolytes.
  • Cucumber is also a rich source of water as it is made up of 96% water.
  • Oranges are rich in water and also high in antioxidants.
  • Tomatoes can also help to replenish water loss.
  • Watermelon
  • Muskmelon

8. Bottomline

Water needs could vary from person to person; one should acknowledge and always keep their water levels under check. A minimum of 8 glasses a day should be the rule to follow.

Dehydration and anxiety are relatable, as one is the effect of the other and the other one is the cure. Severe dehydration can be dangerous. It should always be one’s priority to stay properly hydrated.


To read and enjoy more such articles, click here.

9. FAQs

Q1. Can Dehydration Cause Anxiety?

Dehydration causes the body to release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones can cause feelings of anxiety, irritability, and panic. Dehydration can cause anxiety because of its effects on our body and brain.

Q2. Can Drinking Water Reduce Anxiety?

People who drink five or more cups of water a day have a lower risk of depression and anxiety. In comparison, drinking less than two cups a day doubles the risk. This association was only seen for anxiety (depression and anxiety often interact).

Q3. Can Dehydration Cause Panic Attacks?

There is a clear connection between the symptoms of dehydration and our increased anxiety. Restlessness and dizziness can cause agitation. We may be confused and discouraged in a long-term situation. Confusion can also manifest as ‘brain fog’, often leading to panic attacks.

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  1. Thomas, David R., et al. “Understanding clinical dehydration and its treatment.” Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 9.5 (2008): 292-301. ↩︎
  2. Viru, A., and M. Viru. “Cortisol-essential adaptation hormone in exercise.” International journal of sports medicine 25.06 (2004): 461-464. ↩︎
  3. Iversen, Susan D., and Leslie L. Iversen. “Dopamine: 50 years in perspective.” Trends in neurosciences 30.5 (2007): 188-193. ↩︎
  4. Maughan, R. J. “Impact of mild dehydration on wellness and on exercise performance.” European journal of clinical nutrition 57.2 (2003): S19-S23. ↩︎
  5. El-Mougi, M., et al. “Is a low-osmolarity ORS solution more efficacious than standard WHO ORS solution?.” Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition 19.1 (1994): 83-86. ↩︎

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