Oftentimes when looking to improve mental health, the first ideas to come to mind are things like beginning therapy, meditation, or yoga. However, many of the most effective ways to combat mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD are much simpler. One such way is to simply remain properly hydrated.
Did you know that the brain is made up of 73% water on average? While every organ in the body needs water to perform its actions properly, brain function can be severely impacted by dehydration- affecting not just physical health, but mental health as well. Unfortunately, hydration is often overlooked as a solution to improve mental health. Most doctors recommend drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day, depending on the individual. However, individuals struggling with overwhelming feelings of depression or anxiety often forget to drink water or choose caffeinated drinks in an effort to help improve their energy levels.
Some of the most notable impacts of hydration on mental health are as follows:
Lower risk of anxiety and depression:
A study conducted in 2018 demonstrated that people who drank less water had a higher risk of depression and anxiety. On the other hand, individuals who drank a sufficient amount of water daily were more likely to be mentally healthy and happy.
Improved Emotional Health:
A research study conducted in 2014 explored the effects of hydration or dehydration on overall mood.The study found that when water intake was decreased, mood was adversely affected. The individuals who reduced their water intake were less calm, more overwhelmed, and more prone to feelings of dissatisfaction. On the other hand, individuals who continually drank an appropriate amount of water were calm and satisfied.
Decreased risk of dementia:
It’s a commonly known fact that dehydration is linked to headaches. In addition to the headache relief itself, with the elimination of chronic pain comes a reduced risk of dementia, including illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Lastly, while it’s important for all of us to remember to stay hydrated, for individuals struggling with mental illness, remembering to drink enough water can be difficult. Because of this, it’s important to know the signs of dehydration.
How to Recognize Dehydration
- Changes in your skin e.g., dryness or redness.
- Dry mouth
- Increase in mental illness symptoms
Whether you are looking to maintain or improve your mental health, next time you’re thinking of ways to do so, don’t forget about dehydration. And, if simple at home techniques like this one aren’t getting you to where you want to be emotionally, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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