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How Anxiety Causes Excessive Thirst

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10th, 2020

How Anxiety Causes Excessive Thirst

Thirst may not seem like something related to your anxiety, but it's something that many 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 below.

Drinking Water for Anxiety

It is possible to drink too much water. It's known as water intoxication and it's an incredibly rare phenomenon, usually observed amongst infants and athletes. The estimated amount of water required 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.

Excessive Thirst and Anxiety: The Cause

The first question that people ask is: how can anxiety cause excessive thirst? 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 an indication of dehydration.
  • Excessive Urination/Sweating During periods of anxiety and anxiety attacks, many people sweat and/or urinate more frequently. These are natural reactions to anxiety. These also cause water loss, and may cause you to need more water during the day than you’re 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.
  • Perceived Dehydration and Hypochondria It’s fairly common for people with anxiety to simply imagine that they’re dehydrated, even if this isn’t necessarily the case. For some people, this can develop into an excessive and distressing concern. 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 often become thirstier as a result .

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 in drinking water to reduce your symptoms. 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 more 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 underlying anxiety.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

Ask Doctor a Question

Question:

Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient

Answer:

You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

Ask Doctor a Question

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