A woman drinking a glass of fresh filtered water out in nature

Hydration and Mental Health: Is There Actually a Link?

Ever woken up with a fuzzy head, feeling a little low and lacking in energy (and not because you’ve been out the night before!)? Or perhaps you’ve made it through the day but find yourself experiencing an afternoon slump, reaching for sugary snacks to lift your mood. 

Well, maybe it’s not in your head. Maybe it’s because you’re dehydrated. Research shows that even mild dehydration can lead to cognitive impairment, affecting your mood, concentration, and overall mental clarity. Here we explore why hydration isn’t just about quenching your thirst – it’s essential for maintaining a balanced mood. 


A group of friends enjoying each others company


Does dehydration cause anxiety? 

While dehydration itself may not directly cause anxiety, it can certainly exacerbate symptoms and impact your overall mood and mental state.

When your body is dehydrated, it can trigger physiological responses that mimic anxiety symptoms, such as increased heart rate, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. These physical sensations can contribute to feelings of unease or nervousness.

Moreover, dehydration can affect neurotransmitter function in the brain, which plays a role in regulating mood. When your brain is not properly hydrated, neurotransmitter levels can become imbalanced, potentially affecting how you feel emotionally.

Staying hydrated won’t eliminate anxiety entirely, but ensuring you drink enough water throughout the day can support your overall well-being and help keep your body and mind functioning at their best. 


Can dehydration cause depression?

A man sat an a table looking low


Dehydration doesn’t directly cause depression, but it can certainly contribute to feelings of low mood and worsen existing symptoms. Here’s how dehydration can play a role:


1. Neurotransmitter imbalance

Dehydration can impact the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are crucial for regulating mood. When these neurotransmitters are affected, it can contribute to feelings of depression and affect overall emotional well-being.


2. Cognitive impairment 

Even mild dehydration can impair cognitive function, including memory, concentration, and problem-solving abilities. These cognitive challenges can lead to increased stress and frustration, which may exacerbate feelings of depression.


3. Physical symptoms 

Dehydration can also cause physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and irritability, which can negatively impact mood and contribute to a sense of malaise.

While addressing hydration alone may not resolve depression, staying adequately hydrated is an important aspect of overall wellness. If you’re struggling with depression or low mood, it’s essential to seek support from healthcare professionals who can provide appropriate guidance and treatment options. Remember, taking care of your hydration is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to mental health and well-being.


How does hydration alleviate stress?

Hydration plays a crucial role in stress management by influencing our body’s stress response system, particularly the regulation of hormones like cortisol. 

When we experience stress, whether it’s due to work pressures, personal challenges, or other factors, our body’s natural response is to release hormones like cortisol. Cortisol helps us cope with stress by mobilizing energy and resources for a fight-or-flight response.

However, chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels can have negative impacts on our health and well-being, contributing to issues like anxiety, sleep disturbances, and digestive problems.

Hydration helps regulate cortisol levels because water is essential for many physiological processes, including hormone production and regulation. When we’re properly hydrated, our body functions more efficiently, which can help keep cortisol levels within a healthy range.


How drinking more water will positively affect your mood

A cheerful man with a glass of water


A new study has found that hydration plays a significant role in mood regulation by impacting neurotransmitter function in the brain. Commissioned by Brio Water for National Drinking Water Week, and conducted by OnePoll, the study found more than a few quality of life and work quality positives related to proper hydration. 

Our study shows the most common outcomes of drinking enough water are being more productive (36%), feeling more prepared for the day (32%), having more control of the day (28%) and feeling more confident (27%). 

Eight in 10 Americans (79%) said their lives, including work quality, relationships, health and mood, would improve if they improved their hydration. 

And the majority (56%), said they’re a nicer person if they’re sufficiently hydrated.

The poll of 2,000 Americans shows that people who are hydrated on a regular basis are more receptive to constructive criticism compared to those who are dehydrated (33% vs. 22%).

Coincidentally (or not), hydrated Americans are also more likely to help a co-worker in need (45%) than dehydrated Americans (40%). 

Those who said they’re hydrated on an average day are more likely than their dehydrated counterparts to cook (65% vs. 60%), spend quality time with friends and family (64% vs. 48%) and read (55% vs. 50%) on a regular basis.

‘The study showcased that most people believe drinking more will improve their work, relationships, mood and health. So if you haven’t recently, see how you can up your water intake during the day, so you can live your very best life,’ said Georgii Tsatrian, Director of Filtration, Brio Water. ‘Proper hydration with high-quality water really is the foundation of a good life, which you deserve.’ 


How to stay hydrated

A women drinking a glass of fresh filtered water


Our brain relies on various neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, to regulate mood and emotions. These neurotransmitters are responsible for feelings of happiness, calmness, and overall well-being.

Water is essential for proper neurotransmitter function. When we're adequately hydrated, our brain cells can efficiently produce and transmit neurotransmitters. This helps maintain a balanced mood and supports emotional stability.

By staying hydrated throughout the day, we support optimal neurotransmitter function, which can positively impact our mood and emotional state. So, keep sipping on water to keep those neurotransmitters flowing and your mood in check! Discover how to stay hydrated by reading How Much Water Should I Drink Per Day? We have tips on how to get kids to drink water, too. 

‘Hydration is one of the most important factors influencing happiness and health. While the physical benefits of proper water intake are obvious, the mental health benefits need to be highlighted,” said Georgii Tsatrian, Director of Filtration, Brio Water. ‘For National Drinking Water Week, May 5- 11, we encourage everyone to take a look at their water intake and evaluate if it’s up to par. Improving your hydration is one of the simplest and easiest ways to improve your quality of life.’

At Brio Water, we’re dedicated to promoting the benefits of proper hydration for overall health and well-being. Whether you want to hydrate at home or at work, filtered water on demand is extremely convenient and beneficial. Browse Brio’s bottled coolers, bottleless coolers, 4-stage reverse osmosis systems and tankless undersink reverse osmosis systems.

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