Women's Health

Can Dehydration Lead to Mood Swings?

Can Dehydration Lead to Mood Swings?

Key Takeaways

  • Mild dehydration can cause a woman to feel irritable and fatigued.

Even mild dehydration was found to have a drastic effect on the moods and concentration of women, according to a new study conducted on 25 healthy women. The results, published in The Journal of Nutrition, shows that mild dehydration causes mood swings, increased fatigue, and headaches in women.

In this study conducted on healthy women with an average age of 23-years-old, women participated in three experiments. In two of the experiments, dehydration was induced by walking on treadmill with or without a diuretic pill. Memory, concentration, and mood were measured using standard tests before and after dehydration. The observations showed that there was no change in the overall mental ability of the participants. Yet, most of the participants had an increase in perception of task difficulty and a decrease in the concentration after dehydration.

Researcher Lawrence E. Armstrong, PhD, professor of environmental and exercise physiology at the University of Connecticut's Human Performance Laboratory, remarks that women were more fatigued, especially during exercises and when sitting at a computer. Armstrong and colleagues had measured the effects of mild dehydration in men in one of the earlier studies. They had found that mild dehydration caused some subtle mental difficulties in men too. The risks were found to be similar in both the sexes. The study clearly shows that one should keep hydrated always to be alert and active.

“The feeling of thirst itself shows that one is dehydrated”, says Armstrong. Symptoms like fatigue and headaches are the body’s way of reminding one to drink more water. Robert Glatter, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, commented that the study is a reminder to young healthy women who frequently exercise. They should have moderate quantities of water before and after the exercise to avoid dehydration, which may cause headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.

The study does not show whether the results can be applied to other fractions of the population, like the elderly, diabetes patients, and children. In any case, the best way to avoid dehydration, mild or severe, is to have plenty of water.

Most people are confused about how much water they need to drink to keep themselves adequately hydrated. Olveen Carrasquillo, MD, the chief of the division of general internal medicine at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, recommends six to eight glasses of water in per day. Each glass of water consumed per day should be eight ounces. He adds that the effects of mild dehydration will be more pronounced in high-risk groups, like the elderly and young children. One can avoid dehydration by noticing the signs of dehydration in the body. The best symptom of this condition is the color of urine, which should be light yellow under normal conditions.