It was a Saturday afternoon and the day was going perfectly. I had enough energy that I decided to brave my favorite spoon sucking activity: thrift shopping. I was sifting through the racks of clothing looking for something that didn't look like it came from my grandmas closet when my boyfriend approached me. I had already been to one other store without luck.
He was over it, ready to go home. In my mind, he snarled at me and said it was time to go. In reality, he just said, "You about done?" Innocent enough.
What happened next nearly destroyed our three year relationship. I snapped. I don't know what was wrong with me, but the stream of ugly words that came out of my mouth was something I was not proud of. He was staring at me like I had snakes coming out of my hair.
I had lost almost all my spoons. They were gone before I even knew what happened. As I was reaching into my purse to fish out a NormaLyte (that's an oral rehydration salt proven to help manage symptoms of POTS), I started to apologize, feeling ashamed and embarrassed of my outburst.
MOOD CHANGES AND DEHYDRATION
We went home where I stayed on the couch until bedtime. I realized that I was dehydrated. In my excitement of the day, I wasn't drinking enough. I'd had a good lunch, but even then it occured to me that I hadn't been watching my sodium intake well enough. I was dehydrated.
Did you know that dehydration can cause mood changes?
What is dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when your body doesn't have enough fluids. It can happen when you don't drink enough, sweat too much, or have an illness that causes diarrhea or vomiting. In my situation it was my chronic illness (POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) that was causing my dehydration.
Mild dehydration is common for everyone with or without chronic illness. Usually without causing any serious problems, but even mild dehydration can affect your mood.
How dehydration affects mood
When you're dehydrated, your body has to work harder to function properly. This can lead to a number of physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, and dizziness. If you're someone with POTS, these symptoms are all too familiar.
Dehydration can also affect your mood in a number of ways, including:
- Irritability: When you're dehydrated, you're more likely to feel irritable and frustrated. Dehydration can impair your cognitive function and make it difficult to concentrate or think clearly.
- Anxiety: Dehydration can also increase feelings of anxiety. Dehydration can cause your heart rate to increase and your blood pressure to drop. These physical changes can trigger the release of stress hormone leading to anxiety.
- Fatigue: Dehydration can make you feel tired and sluggish. It can reduce blood volume and make it more difficult for your body to deliver oxygen to your muscles and tissues.
- Depression: Dehydration can also worsen feelings of depression. This is because dehydration can deplete the levels of certain neurotransmitters in your brain, such as serotonin and dopamine. These important neurotransmitters play a role in regulating mood.
Luckily for me, I have a very accepting boyfriend. He understood what had happened (I lost spoons, or energy). I apologized and he, being the wonderful man he is, just let it roll off his back.
How to prevent dehydration-related mood changes
The best way to prevent dehydration-related mood changes is to stay hydrated. This means drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, more if you're sweating or exercising. You can also drink other fluids, such as unsweetened tea or juice.
If you suspect that you may be severely dehydrated then you should consider taking something like NormaLyte, an oral rehydration salt. It's a medical grade electrolyte. NormaLyte is my go to for POTS because not only is it clinically proven to help manage symptoms, it also uses the World Health Organization's perfect formula for rehydration.
Avoid drinking sugary drinks, such as soda or sports drinks, as these can actually dehydrate you further. Wait, sports drinks can actually dehydrate you? You bet they can!
As always, consult your doctor! They can rule out any other underlying medical conditions and help you develop a plan to stay hydrated and improve your mood.