It might seem bold to state that dehydration causes stress, but it only makes sense when we understand that the average adult body is over 70 percent water – and every single function in the body and the brain requires adequate water.
In the book Hexagonal Water: The Ultimate Solution, author M.J. Pangman writes that “Dehydration is the number one cause of stress in the human body.”
In fact, many of the symptoms of chronic dehydration are similar to the symptoms of chronic stress.
According to water expert and author F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., in Your Body’s Many Cries for Water:
“Dehydration equals stress, and once stress establishes, there is an associated mobilization of primary materials from the body stores.
"The process ‘mops up’ some of the water reserves of the body. Consequently, dehydration causes stress, and stress causes further dehydration.”
The way the body responds to stress is also similar to the way it responds to dehydration. Basically, the body assumes a survival mode, and takes the fight-or-flight position.
What this means, in part, is that several powerful hormones are released and remain activated until the stressful situation or state of dehydration is resolved.
According to Dr. Batmanghelidj . . .
The key hormones involved in both the stress and dehydration response are cortisone, prolactin, endorphins, vasopressin, and rennin-angiotensin.
Batmanghelidj explains the roles of these different hormones to essentially get us through the period of stress.
However, if the action of these hormones continues for too long—such as in chronic stress or chronic dehydration—critical bodily functions are affected.
For example, if cortisone production continues for too long, certain reserves of amino acids in the body are depleted. Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins.
A prolonged secretion of prolactin in the body due to stress and chronic dehydration may be associated with the development of cancer in breast tissue, according to Dr. Batmanghelidj.
I have only given two examples of how these hormones (which are chemical messengers in the body) are affected by dehydration and stress.
The complex function of all of these hormones in relation to the stress response are explained in detail in Your Body’s Many Cries for Water.
Obviously, dehydration is not the only cause of stress, but it is safe to say that drinking enough water to stay fully hydrated is the number one thing you should do if you are experiencing any type of stress—acute or chronic.
In addition to drinking more water, you will achieve body-mind balance quicker if you eliminate alcohol and caffeinated beverages, including coffee, tea and sodas. These beverages will only exacerbate the condition and weaken the adrenal system, which is central to the hormonal system.
In summary, dehydration and stress is a vicious cycle. Dehydration causes stress, and stress can cause further dehydration.
Staying fully hydrated is a simple way you can help your body to deal with stressful situations and minimize the harmful effects of prolonged stress.
M.J. Pangman; Hexagonal Water: The Ultimate Solution; 2007.
F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.; Your Body’s Many Cries for Water; 2008.