Every system in the human body counts on water to function, and the brain is no exception. In fact, about 75 percent of brain tissue is water. Research has linked dehydration to depression and anxiety because mental health is driven primarily by your brain’s activity. Long story short, dehydration causes brain functioning to slow down and not function properly. It is important to think of water as a nutrient your brain needs.
What’s the Connection Between Dehydration & Anxiety?
Multiple studies point to a link between dehydration and a higher risk of anxiety. In one 2018 study by Trusted Source of over 3,000 adults, those who drank more water had a lower risk of anxiety and depression than those who drank less water.
Though the connection between dehydration and depression was stronger, researchers found that anxiety was higher in those who didn’t drink enough water.
Dehydration Causes Depression in at Least Three Ways:
Dehydration Saps Your Brain’s Energy. Dehydration impedes energy production in your brain. Many of your brain’s functions 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 subpar 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, resulting in lower electrolyte levels. Drinking sufficient water can help reduce the negative psychological and physiological impacts of stress.
Mood Improves With More Water Intake
In a smaller 2014 study by Trusted Source, researchers explored how increasing or decreasing water intake affected mood in people with different water-drinking habits. They found that people who usually drink lots of water felt less calm, less content, and tenser when their water intake dropped. When researchers increased the participants’ water intake, people in the study felt more happiness, no matter how much water they normally drank.
Drinking plenty of water will help keep you in good physical and mental shape, which is why it’s important to make hydration part of your overall self-care commitment.
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