Effects of Dehydration on Mental Health

Proper hydration of the body is essential. You’ve heard that many times – but do you know why hydration is so essential? This article will share the many reasons why you and your loved ones need to stay hydrated, not least for the sake of your mental health, and will provide you with some simple tips to improve your hydration.

Dehydration and Depression

One of the reasons proper hydration is so crucial, especially if you suffer from low mood or depression, is if you don’t hydrate enough, your body will start producing less serotonin, which is an important neurotransmitter that accounts for feelings of happiness. Your brain converts the amino acid tryptophan to serotonin. A sufficient amount of water is needed for tryptophan to be transported across the blood-brain barrier. Hence, dehydration reduces the amount of tryptophan available to the brain and consequently brings your serotonin levels – and you – down.

Dehydration and Stress

Insufficient hydration can cause stress and vice versa. When someone is stressed, their adrenal glands pump out a higher amount of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. If you’re constantly under pressure, you can become exhausted. The adrenal glands also secrete the hormone aldosterone, which helps to regulate fluid and electrolyte levels. Aldosterone production drops as adrenal fatigue progresses, triggering dehydration and low electrolytes. Being hydrated can help mitigate the negative physiological and psychological effects of stress.

Dehydration and Fatigue

Another way dehydration can affect your mental health adversely is by causing you to feel fatigued. To avoid this, ensure that you’re consuming sufficient amount of water. If you’re thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated. When we’re fatigued, this can worsen our feelings of mental health as we can tend to get into a more negative mood and negative thinking pattern, feel more sluggish, and thus not get around and out of the house being as active and social, thus worsening our mood even more. Ensure you stay well hydrated to avoid this from happening.

Dehydration and Mental Health: Suicidal Thoughts

Admissions to mental hospitals and suicide rates increase when the weather gets warmer. This is not firm evidence that dehydration causes suicidal thoughts, of course, but the relationship is there. According to experts, neurotransmitters are suspected to not be working correctly when you combine heat and not enough water. Brain activity becomes compromised when chemicals in the brain go off balance. Then, one’s mood can deteriorate. People have anxiety issues when it’s hot precisely for this reason. According to a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, suicide rates increase during heat waves, and there was also an increase in aggressive behaviour. Again, this is a sign of the stress of the heat on the brain.


Staying Hydrated

Tap water usually isn’t sufficient to hydrate the cells properly as the molecular structure of the cells is usually distorted. Tap water is ‘dead’ water, so the cells can’t really understand this molecular structure properly. To stay hydrated, things like fruit and coconut water are usually the better option. The implications of dehydration go way above and beyond mental health. Dehydration can also cause blood thickening, which, in turn, causes a whole series of additional health issues. If your blood is thick, it becomes much more challenging for your heart to draw up clean, fresh blood from the liver.

It will also be harder for the heart to provide the brain and other organs with adequate oxygen and blood. Over time, the heart can become worn out by this continuous exertion prematurely. High-Fat Diets High-fat diets are definitely trendy, but they have a serious downside for several reasons – in terms of the topic of hydration, high- fat diets won’t provide your body with the hydration it needs to thrive and flourish. If you are on a high-protein diet, you are likely consuming big amounts of fat also as high protein foods are nearly always high in fat also. These eating habits cause a person to become dehydrated very fast and start developing thick blood. You can still eat animal protein if you like it, but it’s important to limit the amount in the diet to avoid suffering from long term systemic chronic dehydration and the corresponding health risks, and ensure that you consume plenty of hydrating foods and liquids. Long-term thickened blood can cause major health issues such as heart attacks, strokes, liver and/or kidney problems, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. The risk of cancer is much greater for people with thick blood because the body has less oxygen circulating in it and it becomes harder to detox as a result. The risk of more health problems increases as someone with thick blood ages. A person with thick blood may not enjoy the benefits of an exercise routine or a detox protocol because thick blood often makes it more difficult for the body to flush out toxins. Even someone who looks like they’re in great shape can still have a highly acidic system and thick blood. High acidity in the body, reflected as low pH of the urine among other things, is also caused by insufficient hydration or dehydration. In turn, an overly acidic organism will be more vulnerable to diseases like cancer. In fact, high acidity is believed to be a primary contributor to the development of cancer.

Appearances can be deceiving. A person who doesn’t look very fit might be able to keep his or her body hydrated and blood thin through a nourishing diet and healthy lifestyle choices. Such a person will be much less likely to suffer from a heart attack, stroke, and/or other health issue associated with thick blood unlike somebody who looks much better, but is maintaining a good physical appearance at the expense of her hydration and health. On the subject of acidity, coffee and alcohol are big culprits. These beverages dehydrate the body further. According to nutritionists, you may be dehydrated and on the verge of developing thick blood even if your coffee and alcohol intake is minimal, for example only one coffee each morning or just two beers or glasses of wine in the evening.

It is of paramount importance that you stay well-hydrated if you suffer from anxiety, panic, or depression. If you are under great stress or suffer from any neurological problem, hydration is critical as well.

When it comes to hydration, most people know to reach for water, but not just any water will do. It is important to avoid tap where possible due to the chlorine in the water as chlorine dehydrates the body. Tap water also has a lot of other nasty toxins in it and is ‘dead’ water which your cells do not absorb properly. Spring, mineral or alkaline water, or restructured filtered tap water are probably your better options.

One amazingly hydrating liquid is cucumber juice. We know it doesn’t exactly sound delicious, but you should try it for the sake of your health. Cut up a few cucumbers and run them through a juicer, or you can put diced up celery juice in a blender with coconut water and mint. Drink a few glasses of this every day. It will work miracles for your hydration. Cucumber juice is essential if you eat a lot of salty or greasy food. Cucumber juice thins out your blood and supports your heart and the energy it exerts as a result. You should also add lemon water into your daily routine. Just squeeze lemon into a glass of cool good quality water and have a sip. Do this as often as you can, especially first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (after you have brushed your teeth). Fresh lemon can also add zest to things like herbal tea and raw salads. Even pasteurised coconut water can help hydrate the body. Also, try to bring fresh, raw veggies into your diet. Always enjoy a salad with sliced cucumbers. You could have celery sticks as a snack between meals to stay hydrated or make a dish with raw pasta, zucchini or cucumbers cut into spirals, fresh tomatoes and orange, red, or yellow bell peppers. Fruit is hydrating

Another excellent way to properly hydrate your body is to consume loads of fresh living fruits. Fresh fruit has innumerable health benefits for physical and mental health, not least of which is hydration. Fruit is mostly water, and this water is structured in a way that the cells in your body can read and utilise, because it is “living” water as opposed to “dead” water that is found out of your tap or in bottled water. You also need not to worry about the sugar in fruit as this type of fruit sugar (fructose) is the highly beneficial, healing fructose that your body and brain needs loads of in order to survive and heal.

In summary, adding more water and fresh living fruits and vegetables in their whole or liquid form into your day will be exceptionally beneficial to your health. Try to drink as much fresh juice as possible, whip up a daily smoothie, throw in a coconut water whenever you can, bring in a living spinach soup as a natural source of salt when possible, and squeeze fresh lime or lemon into your water and on your salads when you can. Your mind and body will thank you!







If you find yourself struggling with stress, depression or fatigue contact us today on 07 5574 3888 or email contact@vitalityunleashed.com.au to discuss how Ashley our Gold Coast Psychologist can help you improve your wellbeing.