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Dehydration - Can Cause Many Anxiety-like Symptoms

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: November 1, 2020

Without sufficient fluids, the volume of blood decreases, which can cause a decrease in blood pressure and the amount of blood and oxygen that reach the brain. These decreases can cause many anxiety-like symptoms, including:

Mild to moderate dehydration

  • Concentration problems
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Cracked lips
  • Dark urine
  • Decreased urine output
  • Depression
  • Dizziness; light headedness
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Dry tongue
  • Dry, cool skin
  • Fatigue
  • Few or no tears
  • Headache
  • Increase in anxiety
  • Increase in tension
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Increased thirst
  • Irritability
  • Involuntary panic attacks
  • Listless
  • Memory problems
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Reduced alertness
  • Tired or sleepy
  • Urine is low volume and more yellowish than normal

Moderate and above dehydration

  • Blood pressure drops when the person tries to stand after lying down (low blood pressure or orthostatic hypotension)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness that does not allow the person to stand or walk normally
  • Extreme thirst
  • Fainting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy, confusion, or coma
  • Nausea
  • Poor skin elasticity (skin slowly sinks back to its normal position when pinched)
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Seizure
  • Severely decreased urine output or no urine output. The urine, if any, produced is concentrated and a deep yellow or amber color.
  • Shock
  • Sleepiness, lack of energy, confusion or irritability
  • Stomach cramps

Ensuring your body is well hydrated can prevent dehydration and its symptoms.

The body is well hydrated when urine is almost clear. Generally, the darker the color of urine, the more dehydrated the body is becoming.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources:

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Shaheen, Naila, et al. "Public knowledge of dehydration and fluid intake practices: variation by participants’ characteristics." BMC Public Heath, 5 Dec. 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6282244/

“Dehydration.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Sept. 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086.