Can dehydration cause depression?

dehydration and depression



Have you ever forgotten to drink during the day and found yourself quite exhausted?

When you have complained of depression to your healthcare professional, have they ever asked you how much water you drink?

Dehydration and lack of consuming sufficient quantities of water during the day is a major cause of physical and psychologist illness but it is rarely addressed in medicine.

During medical and healthcare training only symptoms of major dehydration are addressed, so clinicians often do not think chronic dehydration is a medical problem but it regularly occurs in the general population.

Symptoms and signs of dehydration:

Dry mouth

Low blood pressure

Rapid heart beat

Rapid breathing


Dry and deflated skin

Reduced tears when crying

Aching muscles

Dark rings under the eyes

Soreness of the eyes and crystals in the corner of the eyes

Yellow colour on the iris around the pupil

Poor sleep patterns

Kidney and urinary tract infections







Mood swings

Your body is made up of between 50% – 75% water. Children have a higher level of water, up to around 78%. If the water content of your body is too low it is unable to carry out many of its daily biological functions and is more susceptible to infections and disease.

The water use in your body has four major functions:

The transportation of blood constituents in your arteries, veins and lymphatic system

1. The transportation of blood constituents in your arteries, veins and lymphatic system

2. It is part of the chemical reactions in your body

3. It assists tissue hydration and lubrication

4. To promote cellular health. When there is not sufficient water, some and sometimes all of these systems fail.

Your large red blood cells (erythrocytes) need to be fat and round to carry large amounts of oxygen.

When you are dehydrated, they are reduced in size and tend to stick together. This means they do not have a good surface area to absorb and discharge oxygen so you feel tired, lethargic and ultimately depressed. You are also not getting rid of enough toxins so your kidneys and liver become overloaded.

Insufficient water causes poor respiration so your body becomes too laden with carbon dioxide and low in oxygen. The chemical reaction of respiration decreases.

Dehydration also reduces chemical reactions in the brain so you begin to shut down your body and neurological systems, particularly around production of the happiness hormones.

All tissue needs water.

A dull, dry skin is a skin that is not getting rid of waste products as the skin is the largest excretory organ in the body. You suffer slow poisoning. Your muscles begin to ache, you lose strength and your joints seize up. All your functioning organs begin to operate below standard.

Cells need sufficient water in order to do their job, no matter what kind of cell they are in the body. Reduced cell hydration causes accelerated ageing and reduces the body’s immune system effectiveness, causing infection and inflammation.

Now as a naturopath I am also going to mention the gut because we concentrate a lot of our attention on gut health.

The gut is the very seat of your heath.

When you are dehydrated the good bacteria in your bowel decreases and the bad bacteria in your bowel increases, causing dysfunction in the immune system. The moving of food along your gut becomes slow and your happiness hormones are reduced.

So unquestionably chronic dehydration does cause symptoms of depression.

How to stay hydrated

•You need to drink around 1.5 – 2.0 litres of water a day

•Carry water with you in a glass bottle to reduce contamination

•Frequently drink water throughout the day

•If you wake up in the night, drink some water

•Try to drink filtered water

Need help in becoming healthy? Book a naturopathy consultation with me by calling my Sydney clinic on 02 8021 6429

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