Does Being Dehydrated Affect Your Mental Health?

dehydration on mental health conditions

Do you ever feel like your brain is just operating at 10% capacity? It could be because you’re dehydrated. Believe it or not, dehydration can take a serious toll on both our physical and mental health in the office environment.

Today, Office H2o explores how even mild dehydration can negatively affect cognition and overall mental well-being — and what to do about it! Whether you’re stuck in an office all day or just going about your daily tasks outside the home, staying properly hydrated will ensure you take on each task with clear-headedness.

What Does It Mean When You’re Dehydrated?

Dehydration is when you don’t have enough water in your body. It can range from mild to severe, but the symptoms are usually quite easy to recognize: thirstiness, dry mouth, low energy levels, headaches, and dizziness. You may also be experiencing constipation or dark-colored urine if you’re severely dehydrated.
According to the Mayo Clinic, anyone can experience dehydration, but it’s especially dangerous for infants, young children, and the elderly. It is also important to pay attention to how much fluid you lose through sweating or exercise.

Types of Dehydration and How They Affect Your Mental Health

There are three main types of dehydration: mild, moderate, and severe. Mild dehydration occurs when you lose 1-2% of your body’s water; moderate dehydration is 3–5%; and severe dehydration is 6% or more

stressed woman with a glass of water

Mild Dehydration

Mild dehydration can cause some cognitive issues. You may find yourself feeling more fatigued and sluggish than usual or having difficulty concentrating on simple tasks. You may also feel anxious and irritable, both of which can negatively affect your workplace performance.

Moderate Dehydration

Moderate dehydration is even more serious. Not only can it make you feel foggy-headed and confused, but it can also lead to decreased reaction times and memory recall. You may be more prone to making mistakes and not be able to think as quickly as you usually do.

Severe Dehydration

Severe dehydration is the most dangerous and can be life-threatening. It can cause confusion, disorientation, and fainting — all of which are not conducive to a productive workday.

woman deals with adverse effects of mental health disorders

What Is The Connection Between Dehydration And Mental Health?

Your brain needs water to function properly — it’s that simple! Water helps transport oxygen and glucose in your body by keeping your cells healthy. When you’re dehydrated, your brain is less able to process information, and you may experience impaired memory or concentration. It can also lead to fatigue, confusion, and irritability. Here’s how:


Your Brain Chemistry

Dehydration can cause a decrease in serotonin, the hormone that helps regulate mood. Low levels of serotonin could lead to feelings of anxiety or depression. It may also disrupt your sleep patterns, making it hard for you to stay alert and focused on tasks during the day.

Your Cognitive Performance

Dehydrated brains often find it harder to focus. This can manifest as difficulty concentrating, slower reaction times, or an inability to think clearly. In severe cases of dehydration, you may even experience a mental fog that makes it difficult for you to make decisions or complete simple tasks.

confused man, brain functions
a woman lies on a bed looking at phone

Your Energy Levels

Dehydration can also lead to fatigue and a decrease in physical energy. This is because water helps regulate your human body temperature, so when you’re dehydrated, your thermoregulatory system isn’t working properly, and you may feel sluggish or dizzy.

Your Brain’s Ability to Cope With Stress

Studies have shown that the negative effects of dehydration can reduce our cognitive reserves, which means our brain is less able to handle stressful situations. This can lead to a poor perception of task difficulty, decision-making, and an inability to cope with stress at work or in social situations.

emotional well-being and depressive disorders
woman hugs friend with depressive disorders

Can Dehydration Cause Depression and Anxiety?

Studies show dehydration in adults can also contribute to anxiety and depression by increasing the production of stress hormones. Even mild dehydration has been linked with an increase in cortisol — a hormone that plays a role in our body’s stress response. You may also feel more anxious and irritable due to dehydration’s effects on brain chemistry.

Psychologists even recommend drinking a few sips of cold water during a panic attack to help calm your nerves and ease anxiety. It’s also important to note that dehydration can be made worse by certain medications, so be sure to stay on top of your hydration levels when taking any medication.

How Can You Stay Hydrated at Work?

Staying hydrated at work can be a challenge, especially if you have a busy schedule. But proper hydration is crucial for maintaining your health, energy, and productivity throughout the day. Here are some tips to keep yourself hydrated at work:

Bring a reusable water bottle

Always have a reusable water bottle with you at work and make sure to refill it regularly. Having a dedicated water bottle will remind you to drink water and help you track your water intake.

Drink plenty of water

The amount of water you need to drink depends on your body weight, activity level, and the weather. As a general rule of thumb, you should drink at least 8-ounces of water every hour to stay hydrated.

Drink water before meals

Drinking water before a meal can help you feel full and prevent overeating. It can also aid digestion and absorption of nutrients. It will also give you the energy needed following the meal so you don’t hit that 2 o’clock slump.

Eat water-rich foods

Eating foods that are high in water content such as fruits, vegetables, soups, and smoothies can help you stay hydrated and provide your body with essential nutrients. Your body will also spend less time digesting and more time absorbing water-rich foods.

Avoid sugary drinks

Sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, and juices can dehydrate your body quickly. Instead, opt for water or herbal tea to stay hydrated and healthy.
Remember that staying hydrated is not just important for your physical health but also your mental and emotional well-being. Drinking enough water can help increase your focus, concentration, and overall mood. So, make sure to prioritize hydration at work and enjoy the benefits of a well-hydrated body and mind.

Get Quality Purified Water With Bottleless Water Coolers From Office H20

Office H20 provides bottleless water coolers to keep your workspace hydrated. Our water coolers are equipped with quality filters that purify your tap water and turn it into clean, refreshing drinking water. This makes sure your workspace is always stocked with cold, crisp water to help you stay alert and productive.

So, if you’re looking for an easy way to stay hydrated at work, Office H20 is here to help. We offer bottle-less water coolers for offices of all sizes, so no matter how big or small your workspace is, you can be sure to get quality, purified water. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you stay hydrated!