I recently read where getting even mildly dehydrated can affect your mood, not just your physical health. Is that true?


Absolutely. And in the start of winter, it’s a good time to remember that staying properly hydrated is vital for the health of your mind and body. Every system in your body relies on adequate fluid levels to operate safely and effectively. That means, even in the cold weather, you have to keep up with your intake of water and other fluids (not including alcohol and soda, which act as diuretics, reducing fluid levels in the body). Even the earliest stages of dehydration—before you feel thirsty—can affect your ability to concentrate and make decisions. You can become irritable and sluggish. Try to drink six to eight glasses of water throughout the day, and more if you are especially active. If you are frail, or have a condition such as heart failure that requires limited fluid intake, talk with your doctor about ways to hydrate safely.

Maurizio Fava, MD, is the director of the Division of Clinical Research at the Mass General Research Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of Mind, Mood, Memory, a publication of the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Fava hosts a column where he answers readers' questions related to brain health.

Recipe: Blackberry Mint Infused Water

Prep time: 5 min

Servings: 8


  • 1/4 cup fresh blackberries
  • 2 small sprigs fresh mint or one large sprig 4 cups fresh water


  • Can be stored in the refrigerator for 7 days
  • Can be stored in any food-safe container

This recipe originally appeared on

This article originally appeared in Mind, Mood & Memory, a publication of the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, dedicated to maintaining mental fitness for middle age and beyond.

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