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Hydrate Your Brain, Improve Your Mood

by Jennifer Barzey, LCSW

As the temperature outside increases, it is more important than ever to stay hydrated. Most of us are aware that water is essential for the body to function well. But what about water for mental health? Does drinking water help with conditions like anxiety and depression? The short answer is yes, but the reasons why are a bit more complicated. If you want to know more, read on!

The brain is approximately 73% water. This means if you are dehydrated, even a little, your brain will not be able to function at its best and will start to slow down. As your brain and bodily systems slow down you become more likely to experience depressed mood. Dehydration occurs when you are losing more fluid than you are taking in. Symptoms of dehydration include shorter attention span, memory impairment, impaired concentration and fatigue. Sound familiar? Many of these same symptoms occur when someone is experiencing depression.

Water also plays an essential role in multiple bodily functions including digestion, blood pressure, stable heartrate, removing toxins, and moving nutrients into the cells. When these bodily systems do not have what they need to function, the body experiences a state of stress. When the body is stressed, symptoms of anxiety intensify and there can even be feelings of panic.

The bottom line is that while drinking water is not “a cure” for anxiety or depression, staying adequately hydrated may help prevent or reduce symptoms associated with these disorders. How much water should you drink? Individual needs vary based on factors such as exercise levels, diet and weather. Certain medications may also impact your need for water, so check with your doctor if needed. However, a general goal for most people is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day. This means a 150-pound person would drink 75 ounces of water per day. If this seems like a lot, start with drinking a ½ to 1 cup of water every hour.

Here are a few more tips to try:

1.Plain water is best, but if you need to add flavor try using fresh fruit. Google “fruit infused water recipes” for fun concoctions to try!

2.Drink water regularly throughout the day to replenish fluid as it’s lost. Setting a timer can help you remember and get into a new routine.

3. Coffee drinker? Have a glass of water while your morning coffee is brewing. (Unfortunately, coffee doesn’t count towards the daily water goal because caffeine is a diuretic and can contribute to dehydration.)

The temperature outside is HOT, HOT, HOT……. Drink water, your brain will thank you!

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