Anxiety and dehydration

Anxiety and dehydration

Anxiety does not only come with a great variety of symptoms, but it can also be caused or worsened by some common medical conditions such as dehydration.

Dehydration can be the result of excessive fluid loss, which is not compensated for with adequate fluid intake.  Gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea or vomiting, and profuse sweating can all lead to you losing more water than normal. Dehydration may lead to a drop in the volume of blood circulating through your body which will ultimately lead to a drop in your blood pressure. Symptoms associated with low blood pressure are the following:

  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Disturbed vision
  • An increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling confused

If you suffer from anxiety you will see that many of the symptoms associated with a low blood pressure caused by dehydration are similar to those of anxiety. Dehydration can there for mimic and worsen anxiety. Severe dehydration can lead to shock which is a medical emergency and if left untreated can cause permanent damage to your health, so if you suspect that you or someone you know are severely dehydrated consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Treating dehydration is very easy, as it simply requires that you drink more water. This is especially important in hot weather, or when you sweat more than usual, like during periods of increased anxiety. If you have vomited recently or suffered from diarrhea you should also be drinking more water than usual.

Many people think that they can drink any fluid, especially if they do not like water, but some beverages such as alcohol and caffeine drinks (coffee and Coke) act as diuretics, basically meaning that they encourage your body to rid itself of more water, which will leave you even more dehydrated. Rather drink water, semi-skimmed milk, diluted squash or fruit juice. If you are suffering from vomiting or diarrhea try drinking only small amounts of water more frequently, rather than large amounts.

Thirst may be a good indicator of dehydration in some people, but there are people who are not so aware of their thirst mechanism. A better indicator is the color of your urine. If it is dark with a strong smell, you are probably dehydrated. Urine with a light to a transparent color is a good sign of adequate hydration.

Some studies have suggested that 6-8 glasses of water should be enough for adults to prevent dehydration. You should however increase this amount during times of excessive sweating which can be caused by anxiety, hot weather or exercise.  Suffering from diarrhea or vomiting will also require you to take in more fluids.

As you can see in order to relieve your anxiety, you may need to first take in enough fluids. This may not cure your anxiety all at once, but it will help you to cope better with anxiety while you undergo treatment to cure it permanently.

References:

“Low blood pressure (hypotension) – Symptoms” NHS Choices.  2011. Nhs.uk. (November 22, 2012) http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Blood-pressure-(low)/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

“What causes hypotension?” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. U.S Department of Health and Human Services. 2010. Nhlbi.nih.gov. (November 22. 2012) http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hyp/causes.html

“Dehydration Symptoms.”  Mayo Clinic. 2011. Mayoclinic.com. (November 22, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dehydration/DS00561/DSECTION=symptoms

“Dehydration.” NHS Choices. 2011. Nhs.uk. (November 22, 2012) http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Dehydration/Pages/Introduction.aspx

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