Drinking water is a requisite for survival. While still children, we are encouraged to drink water because it’s a healthy habit that is good for our overall health and well-being, but is that all there is to drinking water, or could it be essential to mental health as well?
Research tells us there is more to be gained from drinking water and that mental and emotional health benefits from reaching for a glass of H20.
The Physical Benefits of Drinking Water
Science, medicine, and even the CDC-Center for Disease Control and Prevention all emphasize the need to drink water for overall health and as a prevention against dehydration. Our bodies are approximately 60% water, while our blood is almost 90% water.
Dehydration occurs if your body loses too many fluids or more fluids than you are taking in. The body has difficulty functioning correctly with insufficient fluids, and symptoms including dizziness, dry skin, dry mouth, fatigue, dark-colored urine, and excessive thirst may appear.
When dehydration is prolonged, symptoms may become life-threatening, including increased heartbeat, fainting, confusion, and eventually sending the body into shock.
By drinking sufficient amounts of water daily, your body will benefit from:
- improved digestion and the prevention of constipation
- better regulation of body temperature*, heartbeat, and blood pressure
- balanced electrolytes
- improved joint cushioning.
- tissue and organs protection
- bacteria elimination
- the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to cells
Having trouble sleeping?
Research shows that our core body temperature can be a critical factor in inducing sleepiness. When we go to bed hydrated, our core temperature is better regulated, and we are more likely to feel sleepy and get a good night’s sleep.
The Effects of Dehydration on Mental Health
Hydration is essential to survival, and while dehydration will take its toll on your body, it will not only affect your physical health. It will affect mental health as well. Consider that approximately 73% of the human brain is made up of water. If you drink too little, dehydration will affect the brain. Neurological systems slow, as do bodily functions.
Depression can result from dehydration because the brain no longer has the necessary energy to function correctly. The World Journal of Psychiatry conducted research that concluded that increased water intake reduces the risk of depression.
Your physical health will suffer from dehydration and, in turn, increase physical stress that can lead to feelings of anxiety. When prolonged, stress anxiety can potentially develop into full-fledged panic attacks. While dehydration alone may not cause these symptoms individually, prolonged dehydration due to inadequate water intake can.
Dehydration can also negatively affect serotonin production within the brain. Serotonin is a vital neurotransmitter created by the amino acid tryptophan. Dehydration negatively affects amino acids and consequently lowers serotonin levels. Depression can follow.
The University of Connecticut conducted studies that showed even slight dehydration can affect moods, cause fatigue and headaches, and create concentration problems.
Drinking Water and the Mental and Emotional Benefits
Water intake will primarily affect mental health because drinking adequate water prevents dehydration.
Science has repeatedly demonstrated that dehydration can significantly affect mental and emotional well-being. ‘
Improving mood swings
Drinking water is said to increase a feeling of calmness and satisfaction and increase control over moods throughout the day. By not drinking enough water, feelings of anxiety and nervousness can follow. This will affect not only your mental attitude but your emotional well-being. Negative feelings may be a symptom of dehydration. With increased water intake, managing emotions should be more accessible.
Contribute to feeling happier
Water intake can contribute to feelings of satisfaction, which will aid in maintaining a positive attitude. Dehydration can leave you sluggish and struggling for energy. With proper hydration, energy levels should increase. You may be stimulated to accomplish things with better energy levels.
Improve your focus
Dehydration, even when slight, results in fatigue, headaches, and difficulty focusing and concentrating. This can make accomplishing daily tasks and goals difficult, if possible. Proper hydration increases alertness and attention spans, and reaction times may improve. With more focus, jobs are easier to complete.
Reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.
The principal risk of dehydration is depression. It will steal your brain’s energy, obstruct and decrease serotonin production and increase physical stress. These factors can contribute to depression. Proper hydration will contrast the risk of depression by keeping you energetic and physically less stressed.
Reduce panic attacks
As dehydration can lead to anxiety, it places you at a greater risk of panic attacks. A panic attack can cause an increased heart rate, weakness, fatigue, and faintness. While water alone may not block a panic attack, it can significantly reduce the moment’s stress. If you begin feeling anxious, try drinking water to contrast this sensation.
Water will not magically cure disorders, nor is it a cure for anxiety or depression. What water does is permit your body to function correctly, above all through preventing dehydration.
Managing Water Intake
Realizing the benefits of drinking water, you must be aware of how much water you drink or do not drink. Begin by setting a goal of how much water you must consume daily. Figuring out how much you need depends on how you live—how much activity you do, what you eat, etc. So, consider your daily activity level, location, climate, and any health issues you may have.
To meet your goal, sip your water gradually throughout the day rather than gulping down large amounts. Set up reminders and alerts so you meet your goals. You can use a hydration app to aid consumption. Finally, if drinking much water is tricky, opt for flavored water.You can even infuse your water with fruit.
Preventing dehydration can reduce and eliminate feelings of fatigue, stress, and mental fogginess leading to more well-being and happiness. Maintaining adequate hydration, while not a cure for anxiety or depression, can contribute to preventing or alleviating some of the causes and symptoms of mood swings. Drinking enough water daily should be a part of any long-term mental and emotional health management strategy.