Dehydration and Mental Health

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When we exercise, go outdoors in the heat, or simply avoid drinking water, our bodies are at risk for dehydration. Consuming the right amount of water is important for overall health and keeping the body nourished, and the repercussions for ignoring hydration during the day can be quite serious. Some of the ways dehydration has an effect on mental state include fatigue, hallucinations and confusion, and even anxiety and aggression.

Many of us lead fulfilling lives that keep us busy, busy, busy, and it is hard to remember to grab a bottle of water or stop long enough to drink throughout the day. But, if we allow dehydration to creep in on us, then our work and overall state suffer. Fatigue is one of the quickest symptoms to present itself when we’re dehydrated, and if we allow things to go too far water will not be a solution. If the body becomes so worn down that electrolytes are needed, then sports drinks will have to fill the role that water should normally play in our hydration efforts. If you find yourself fatiguing during the day, then you should ask yourself if you have hydrated properly. If not, then you know the first step to conquer that fatigue.

Past the point of exhaustion, heat and dehydration have the ability to cause hallucinations and confusion. If you have reached this state, medical help is likely needed, but begin by drinking a sports drink, getting out of the heat, and finding cool compresses for your exposed skin. Loosening the clothing or pulling it away from the skin can help some as well. If in doubt of what to do or too tired to take action from the exhaustion, call someone to help you. A friend or family member can help in finding what help you need.

Extreme heat, which causes dehydration when not adhered to properly, has also been found to disrupt brain function. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation quoted Dr. Len Cortese saying, “During heatwaves, there’s an increase in suicide, and there is an increase in aggressive behavior. Again, it’s the stress of the heat that is affecting the brain.” The brain is unable to handle the heat just as our hydration efforts cannot handle extreme heat. The body needs fluids to survive, and when the fluids are disbanded from heat or physical activity, our thought process, brain function, and wellbeing suffer.

As the heat rises this summer, make sure you and your family, friends, and coworkers, are taking the steps necessary to keep hydrated throughout the day. Drinking more water may mean more stops for bathroom breaks, but it also means you are avoiding exhaustion, keeping clear of hallucinations and confusion caused by dehydration, and keeping the body cool to avoid aggression and the inability to handle anxiety. Keep that body and mind working. Drink water.