EFFECTS OF CAFFEINE ON SERIOUS MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS
After covering the general effects of caffeine in Part 1 of this article, we’ll take a look at the impact of caffeine on more serious mental health disorders.
Caffeine is a risky ingredient for children and adolescents as caffeine interferes with calcium absorption and can negatively impact growth and bone strengthening. Add sugary variations to the mix, and we have a recipe for weight gain and cavities! Beyond these effects on general health, caffeine can often have negative effects on people with serious mental health disorders.
High doses of caffeine (beyond 400 mg per day which is considered a safe amount for adults by Mayo Clinic) can cause side effects such as a rapid heartbeat, nervousness, irritability, upset stomach and more.
But of special interest to us at Zifcare, is how caffeine can affect mental health. We advocate a reassessment of caffeine habits and subsequent reduction or even removal of its consumption.
In people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) for instance, caffeine is known to increase anxiety and stress levels. It is best taken only in the morning for people afflicted with this condition, as sleep deprivation triggered by caffeine can exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD.
Moreover, caffeine interacts with several other stimulants including methamphetamine, which is a component of medication used to treat ADHD, and methamphetamine itself can heighten anxiety levels. By adding caffeine to the mix the anxiety may increase even more.
As caffeine is a stimulant, it triggers our body's flight-or-fight response and causes the same jittery feelings anxiety brings. Combine this with pre-existing anxiety issues, and one can well trigger an anxiety attack or panic attack.
While caffeine does not seem to exacerbate the intrusive thoughts caused by OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), the anxiety spiked by caffeine combined with the anxiety associated with OCD leads us to suggest that the caffeine-OCD combination is best avoided. The same goes for all other anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety or general anxiety disorder.
For anyone living with bipolar disorder, any stimulant is a risk. It is best to avoid chemical stimulants altogether. Not only can caffeine trigger a mood swing, but it can also impair sleep. Poor sleep in turn is a major trigger for bipolar mood swings.
Caffeine has been found to compound psychotic symptoms in schizophrenic patients, who may already be prone to consuming coffee at higher than recommended levels.
In the end, we are all different and must thus choose according to our own needs, if required with the assistance of a medical expert. At the very least, we can appreciate the importance of not depending on a chemical stimulant to get ourselves through the day.