Thirst may not seem like something related to your anxiety, but it's something that millions of anxiety sufferers deal with regularly. There is often this feeling of needing to drink a glass of water or two during and after anxiety attacks, and some people feel as though they need to drink more water each and every day.
Anxiety and thirst have a very complicated relationship. We'll explore this relationship in this article.
Is Anxiety Making You Thirsty?
Anxiety can cause you to secretly sweat, leading to serious thirst, and it can be caused by dehydration. Our free 7 minute anxiety test can score your anxiety symptoms and determine how severe your anxiety is and what you can do to treat it.
Drinking Water for Anxiety
It is possible to drink too much water. It's known as water intoxication, and while it's incredibly rare among anyone other than infants and athletes. The estimated amount of water for water intoxication is about 4 gallons, and generally (although not always) this only occurs when you drink that water too quickly – not when it's spread out over an entire day.
So if you're feeling thirsty, it's probably a good idea to drink some water. There's no reason not to try to quench that thirst unless you've already had too much. Take my free 7 minute anxiety test to learn more about treatments, but in general, a glass of water or so is still valuable.
Excessive Thirst and Anxiety: The Cause
The first question that people ask is: how can anxiety cause excessive thirst? Unfortunately, this is a very complicated answer. The reality is that there isn't a single cause. There are a whole host of different reasons that anxiety may contribute to a feeling of needing more water. Some of these include:
- Dry Mouth Anxiety does have a tendency to cause dry mouth, and dry mouth can feel like thirst. Anxiety may cause dry mouth by taking water away from your mouth and sending it to the areas of your body that need it, or by increasing acids in your stomach that may contribute to a loss of saliva. Anxiety can also cause you to feel sick, which may also lead to conditions that feel like dry mouth. All of these can make you feel like you're thirsty when you're not.
- Not Drinking Water/Dehydration Of course, one of the simplest explanations is that you're not drinking enough water. Anxiety has a tendency to make people feel full when they're not, or to cause a loss in appetite. Many people with anxiety do not drink enough water, and that "excessive thirst" is really just thirst.
- Excessive Urination/Sweating During periods of anxiety and anxiety attacks, many people sweat and/or urinate. These are natural reactions to anxiety. These also cause water loss, and may cause you to need more water during the day than you used to.
- Mouth Breathing Anxiety and anxiety attacks also cause a great deal of mouth breathing, often in an attempt to get more air. Mouth breathing naturally dries out the tongue, which – like dry mouth – may give the impression that you need to drink more water, even though you don't necessarily need that water.
- Water Baseline It's also possible that you feel more thirsty because you quenched your thirst in the past during anxiety. If you started drinking a great deal of water to compensate for the thirst you felt from your anxiety, your body may adjust and turn that water into your new hydration baseline. Now you may actually need more water than you used to, simply because your body thinks it will be providing it.
- Perceived Dehydration and Hypochondria Finally, one reason that many people dislike is the idea that it's all in their head, but unfortunately this is a very common problem for those with anxiety. Many people read about how they may not be getting enough water, and anxiety causes them to start thinking about their thirst. Once you think about your thirst, you'll undoubtedly become thirstier.
There is unlikely to be a specific, obvious cause to this feeling of dehydration. Chances are it's a combination of several of these factors.
Drinking Water is Still a Good Idea
Dehydration can both cause anxiety symptoms themselves, and make anxiety symptoms worse when left untreated. As long as you don't overhydrate, there isn't necessarily any harm. Some people find the act of drinking cool water to be calming, and many people drink water during anxiety attacks as a way to calm them down even when they don't have any excessive thirst.
Keep a Cool Head
However, you will also need to make sure that you don't try to talk yourself into believing that something is wrong because you need more water. Thinking about how much water you drink can actually make you thirsty. When your mind is focused on how thirsty you think you'll feel, you're likely to need to drink more water as a result.
Don't forget that all of these issues are caused by anxiety, and so the only true way to treat it is to accept that anxiety causes you to feel this way and commit to curing your anxiety forever.
Take my 7 minute anxiety test to learn more. This test will examine your symptoms and give you recommendations for treatment.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.