Anxiety From Dehydration? Really?

Dehydration? You only get that when you’re crawling through the desert on your belly and think you’re seeing an oasis when there’s just a lot more sand, right? Unfortunately no, in fact it is thought that around 50% – 75% of Americans are dehydrated on a regular basis.

The fact is, you don’t have to be ready to start drinking from the toilet bowl to be considered dehydrated, as soon as you feel thirsty, you are already there. If you wait until you are thirsty before you grab a drink, then you are living in a constant state of dehydration. This is not good for your body, and as recent studies are indicating, it is not good for your anxiety.

I can personally vouch for this as I have felt the parching hand of severe dehydration, and I can tell you now, it ain’t good for anxiety.

The thing is, I live in Thailand and I understand how easy it is to become dehydrated so I always make sure I have a bottle of water nearby and take constant slugs from it as habit. But there are occasions when this just isn’t possible …

Like the time I decided (rather foolishly) to walk back from the medical centre.

You see when you work in Thailand, you have to get a medical certificate to prove you don’t have syphilis, elephantiasis, aren’t completely mentally insane, or are a meth junkie.  So one day during morning break I made my way to the local medical centre to get my “check up”. I arrived on a motorbike taxi, registered my name with the girl behind the counter and sat down in the waiting room.

At this time I should point out that if you have an image of a doctor’s waiting room in your head, then you couldn’t be more wrong.  This is basically a shop counter with a row of chairs in front of it.

The doctor called me after about 15 minutes, listened to my chest and my back for about 30 seconds and then let me go. A hundred and fifty Baht ($5) later, I was out the door with my medical certificate. I had passed with flying colours and there apparently wasn’t a trace of syphilis or meth to be found.

Life was good, so I decided to forego the motorbike taxi and walk back to work. After all it was a lovely day – a balmy 36 degrees.

This was probably not such a good idea at 11:00 am. I arrived at work sweating profusely, my shirt soaked through and my head ringing. I knew straight away the heat had gotten to me and I was dehydrated. I felt awful. It felt like the flu and anxiety had got together and had some sort of love child, and both my body and my brain were taking a battering. Drinking water didn’t even help, it was too late.

That whole day and night were horrible but at least I lived to regret it.

Of course, this was an extreme case as it was probably a combination of heat stroke and dehydration, but it certainly showed me the seriousness of dehydration and now I understand that it was just the  extreme far end of a sliding scale of dehydration anxiety.

The point is, dehydration can worsen or cause anxiety, so you should make a concerted effort to pump your body full with as much water as you can. Stop fighting it because “you don’t like the taste” and start drinking water. Straight water.

The official recommendation is 8 – eight ounce glasses per day, but the way I see it, is if you have to count the glasses, you probably aren’t drinking enough. Counting the glasses is a good start but you should be aiming to be a habit slugger – drinking water constantly throughout the day through habit and not through obligation.

You never know you might find you end up liking it after all.

It is also important to note that even people who do drink 8-eight ounce glasses a day can get dehydrated if they also drink too much caffeine, or alcohol, or have a diet that is too high in sodium.

If you fall into this category, then you may well need to drink more water than the recommended amount to compensate.

And remember you don’t have to buy expensive bottled water to get quality hydration. Tap water is just as good, if not better than most over-priced bottled water (which very often is just bottled tap water anyway). If you have tap water you can drink, then you should count yourself blessed and make the most of it. Many people do not have such luxuries.

Like me for instance. I have never trusted the Bangkok water supply.

But I still don’t buy bottled water. I just use a high-quality water filter. Now I always have water on tap.

About Neil B

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