Water and Mental Wellness
Updated: May 13, 2020
• Research has linked dehydration to depression and anxiety because mental health is driven primarily by your brain’s activity. Dehydration causes brain functioning to slow down and not function properly. It is important to think of water as a nutrient your brain needs.
• While the human brain is made up of about 75 percent water, the first way that dehydration affects the brain and alters how we think and feel is by slowing circulation. This lowers blood flow, which means less oxygen travelling to all parts of the body, including the brain.
• Water has been shown to have natural calming properties, likely as a result of addressing dehydration’s effects on the body and brain. Drinking enough water is an important step in managing your anxiety. Even if you’re not experiencing anxiety, drinking sufficient water can create feelings of relaxation.
• Water carries oxygen to parts of the body because the Blood is made up of 90% water.
• Dehydration Saps Your Brain’s Energy. Dehydration impedes energy production in your brain. Many of your brain’s functions that require this type of energy to become inefficient and can even shut down. The resulting mood disorders that result from this type of dysfunction can be categorized with depression.
• Social stresses such as anxiety, fear, insecurity, ongoing emotional problems, etc., including depression can be tied to not consuming enough water to the point that your brain’s tissue is affected.
• Dehydration impedes your brain’s serotonin production. Depression is frequently related to low levels of serotonin, which is a critical neurotransmitter that heavily affects your mood. Serotonin is created from the amino acid tryptophan, but sufficient water is needed.
• Dehydration can also negatively impact other amino acids, resulting in feelings of dejection, inadequacy, anxiety, and irritability.
• Dehydration increases stress in your body. Stress is one of the most prominent contributing factors to depression, along with a sense of powerlessness and inability to cope with stressors.
• Dehydration is the number one cause of stress in your body. In fact, it’s a self-perpetuating cycle: dehydration can cause stress, and stress can cause dehydration. When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands produce extra cortisol, the stress hormone, and under chronic stress, your adrenal glands can become exhausted, and resulting in lower electrolyte levels.
• Drinking sufficient water can help reduce the negative psychological and physiological impacts of stress.
Signs of dehydration include: • Increased hunger. Hunger and thirst signals come from the same part of the brain, so it’s no surprise that they might be confused. Hunger, even when you know you’ve eaten enough, probably means you need to drink some water, not eat more.
• Dryness. Dehydration is reflected in common signs of dryness, including dry, itchy skin, dry mouth, chapped lips, etc.
• Headache. Lack of water facilitates a shortage of oxygen supply to the brain, resulting in a headache.
• Fatigue and weak/cramped muscles. Muscle weaknesses, spasms, cramping, etc., are common signs of dehydration.
• Bad breath. Bad breath usually means you need some water to refresh yourself. Dehydration induces dry mouth, which means you’re not producing enough saliva to help your mouth fight off odorous bacteria.
• Rapid heartbeat, rapid/shallow breathing, fever, cloudy thinking. These can be signals of severe dehydration, and you may need to seek medical attention. Be well.