Exhaustion and Dehydration as behaviour modifiers

There have been a few recent cases of people acting erratically, masturbating in public, etc whose publicists/relatives eventually explain away as being due to exhaustion and dehydration.

Is there any plausibility here?

I was hospitalized a year or two ago due to (documented) exhaustion and dehydration following a kayak trip. I was too weak to stand. I couldn’t have masturbated if you paid me.

So. . .Martin Lawrence, Kony dude, et al. . .fabricated explanations?

I had to take the Other Shoe to the ER when he got so dehydrated during a bout of stomach flu that his hands and feet started cramping and twitching uncontrollably. I can assure you, his willy was the furthest thing from his mind at that time.

That’s dehydration. Exhausion? Methinks it’s turning into the 21st-century version of Victorian-era “hysteria.”
Side note: if you’re sick, keep on trying to keep down fluids. If you haven’t peed in over a day, then for fuck’s sake notice that and tell someone!

We, ah, learned our lesson on that one.

An article on the topic at Slate suggests that stress plus an underlying mental disorder like bipolar disorder is far, far more likely of a cause.

I have experienced both and they do modify behavior, but not toward more activity.
When I get exhausted I start not to care about anything. I keep doing what I’m doing but lose concentration. For example, in the late stages of an exhausting marathon I could care less about a car hitting me. Go ahead, put me out of my misery. And when I’m dehydrated, my pulse goes from the normal 40 to 98BPM. I feel that difference and need to react. The reaction is to cut back, drink liquids and be cool.

Thanks! That’s what I was looking for.

“Exhaustion” has been a PR codeword for “went nuts/to rehab/on a drug binge/abducted by aliens” for decades.

I think it depends on the individual (I know, duh!)

If you’re talking about a generally fit and healthy thirty-year-old, on no medications, who manages to get dehydrated to the point of not peeing, they’ll probably be thirsty, maybe lightheaded, but otherwise still be okay.

On the other hand, it seems that almost every day I encounter an eighty-year-old with multiple co-morbidities (i.e. associated illnesses such as heart failure, high blood pressure, etc.), taking fourteen meds, who’s gone absolutely bonkers after having fallen, been unable to get up, and thus has had no access to water (or salt). Even so, in such cases there is almost always some associated disturbance in the electrolytes (blood salts) and/or kidney function that magnifies the effect of dehydration to cause delirium (or is, in fact, the real reason for the delirium, the dehydration simply being a risk marker).

The most dehydrated I’d ever been (decided to take a walk in 120 degree weather), I was woken up by a neighbor who found me laying face-down in the gravel in my front yard with my shirt off. So I’d say it won’t make you act crazy, but it can have some pretty massive and somewhat unpredictable effects. Real dehydration (not just being hot or thirsty) is a pretty serious beast.

Taking clothes off- sure, I can see that.

Masturbating? No way.

You get people acting pretty weird in shock (people with considerable medical knowledge can end up doing things a doctor would slap you for, all while giggling at what a good idea it is). Once you’re in rough enough shape, regardless of how you got there, there’s no predicting what you’ll try (successfully or unsuccessfully) to do.

I would think (as a student of paramedicine who hasn’t worked in the field yet) that decreased blood volume in dehydration and decreased blood pressure in salt depletion would bring the amount of oxygen getting to the brain down enough to cause delirium in at least some cases. Similarly, one of the end results of exhaustion is an oxygen-starved brain, isn’t it? I do know that one of the symptoms of hypoxia you are told to watch for is delirium (and milder related things like a giddy feeling, difficulty concentrating etc) and that the most promising new meds for paranoid schizophrenia all seem to double as Alzheimer’s/dementia meds due to their main action being increasing oxygen to the brain (by increasing bloodflow to it, IIRC).

Supposedly the Kony 2012 guy was on PCP, LSD, or ecstasy and the dehydration/exhaustion is a coverup, and I don’t doubt that in his case there were some powerful hallucinogens of some sort involved. Remembering that some of these can keep you high for 8 or more hours (LSD) and all are likely to keep your mind too active to sleep, it’s easy to see why someone would think to pass it off as exhaustion. Depending on the person and circumstance, I sure as hell wouldn’t rule out the possibility of severe exhaustion or dehydration looking exactly like a designer drug binge.

A friend was recently taken to the ER for what they decided was a combination of a drug reaction (new antibiotic), plus severe dehydration caused by the abx-related diarrhea, and perhaps an underlying long-standing issue from some health issues a decade or so ago. She’d been wandering around the house and didn’t seem to know him or even her own name. So severe disorientation might well happen, but as far as I know she didn’t do anything too wildly inappropriate, just “wasn’t in her own head” and scared the crap out of few people.

Word. :cool:

(Also applies to that second word “dehydration”, a relatively recent addition to the mix.)

No regular reader of gossip columns would be expecting victims of this combination of maladies to leave the Emergency Room rehydrated, relaxed, and good to go. :wink:
Then there’s “resigned to spend more time with his/her family”, “keeps his/her private life private”, “only signs on to quality projects” … One of the old Usenet groups had some sort of bi-lingual dictionary for this kind of stuff.

to beat to beat. not a good situation.