Dehydration may sometimes lead to feelings of anxiety and other mood-related symptoms. Other signs of dehydration may include feeling thirsty, a dry mouth, and dizziness.

Dehydration is a condition in which the body has lost fluids and no longer has enough to work properly. Some research suggests a relationship between dehydration and anxiety.

A person can generally rectify their dehydration by taking in more fluids. Rehydrating may help resolve anxiety due to dehydration. However, some people may benefit from treatments for anxiety.

This article examines the relationship between dehydration and anxiety, the signs of dehydration, and how to prevent it and anxiety from occurring.

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Some research suggests an association between feelings of anxiety and dehydration or not drinking enough fluids.

For example, a small 2024 study of 65 female university students in Spain found that those who felt the most anxious were those who were least hydrated.

Another study in Iran observed a slight association between lower levels of drinking water and anxiety in 3,327 adults.

These studies suggest there is a relationship between hydration levels and anxiety, but more research is necessary to confirm whether or not one causes the other.

One possible theory is that dehydration could lead to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Research associates cortisol with anxiety and suggests that reducing this hormone may lower the risk of anxiety.

Dehydration may also lead to a rise in the levels of certain neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, which help influence mood regulation.

In addition to anxiety, research associates dehydration with other negative emotions and symptoms, including:

Severe cases of dehydration can cause symptoms similar to those of stress or an anxiety disorder, including feeling faint and heart palpitations.

If anyone is dehydrated and experiences these symptoms, they need to seek medical help.

When a person is dehydrated, they may experience various physical and mental symptoms.

In addition to the symptoms above, common symptoms of dehydration include:

The longer a person is dehydrated, the more severe their symptoms can become. For example, they may develop low blood pressure.

Learn more about the symptoms of dehydration.

People with dehydration may start to feel better after drinking lots of water. Some research within a 2019 review suggests drinking water may also help relieve any feelings of anxiety that may occur alongside dehydration.

Sports drinks may also help someone rehydrate, as these replace any electrolytes that they may have lost.

Severe cases of dehydration may require a person to receive fluids and electrolytes directly into their veins at the hospital.

If someone is feeling particularly anxious, the following methods might make them feel better:

The “333 rule” is one simple mindfulness technique that may help with anxiety. It involves three steps:

  1. Name three things you can see.
  2. Recognize three things you can hear.
  3. Move three parts of your body or touch three different things.

The way to prevent dehydration is to drink enough fluids.

There is no single ideal amount of fluid for people to drink each day — everyone has different needs. People can help guide themselves through how thirsty they feel. However, they also need to consider that certain situations require more fluid. These include:

  • when the weather is hot
  • when working or exercising outside
  • when ill, particularly with an illness that causes fluid loss such as diarrhea

Certain groups of people are more prone to dehydration than others. These include:

  • older adults
  • young children and infants
  • people with chronic conditions or medication that cause them to sweat or urinate more
  • people working or exercising outside in hot weather

These groups and their caregivers also need to be particularly mindful of how much water they drink.

Learn how much water to drink each day.

Preventing anxiety

Practicing self-care can help support a person’s mental health and may help them feel less anxious. Useful self-care tips include:

Learn more about how to improve mental health.

Dehydration may lead a person to feel anxious. It could also affect people’s moods in other ways.

Researchers are currently uncertain as to what is behind the relationship between dehydration and anxiety. Some potential explanations involve changing levels of hormones and neurotransmitters. However, further research is necessary to understand this fully.

In many cases, drinking enough water will help resolve dehydration and may also help raise a person’s mood.

There are several things people can try at home to relieve and prevent anxious feelings. These approaches include breathing and muscle relaxation exercises.