While we are on the topic of legal, over-the-counter drugs that people consume on a daily basis without any thought to how it will impact their mental health, let’s take a look at caffeine!
As mentioned in my previous post, my office shares a parking lot with a popular java joint. I am not innocent; I treat myself once or twice per week to a latte. I am very aware of the effects; which is why I limit myself AND take efforts to avoid any excess consumption of caffeine.
Caffeine is a stimulant. It has been studied and found that caffeine is linked to increased anxiety, sleep disturbance, and can lead to symptoms of mania. Caffeine can lead to restlessness, agitation, excitement, rambling thought and speech, and insomnia. For those with psychiatric diagnoses, it exacerbates agitation, psychosis and the above mentioned symptoms.
While caffeine isn’t all bad, low doses can improve cognitive functioning and mood, it is common for dependence and abuse to occur. Caffeine withdrawal leads to fatigue, headaches, irritability and depressive symptoms.
If you are already an anxious person or are seeking treatment for an anxiety, sleep, impuls control, or bipolar disorder, I would absolutely recommend that you avoid caffeine. Why fuel the fire?! I personally and professionally do not agree with minors (those under the age of 18) drinking coffee or energy drinks. This means that parents need to say no and have contingencies in place if the rule is breached. I believe there are more holistic methods to improve alertness in all people (Think healthy sleep and exercise)! Teaching kids, teens and young adults to reach for a quick fix has horrific implications later in life (think drugs, promiscuity, risk taking).
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