Mental Health and Caffeine: Miracle Cure or Morbid Curse?

Today's post is authored by Nastaeen Tajin, MedEq's Public Relations Coordinator. 

We have all been put in a position where we have had accomplish a task in a short span of time and apply various techniques maintaining focus and sanity. Some people slip ice-cubes down their shirts or place a rubber band on their wrist and snap it when they feel too sleepy. As we all know, and experience for that matter, coffee is the top method of accomplishing this task. Coffee is successful in providing that short-term jolt of energy to assist one in surviving an all-night study session but it can also have long-term effects on one’s health.

According to the article, “Coffee Can Help Boost Your Mental Health: How Many Cups Will Make A Difference?” published by Tech Times(1), caffeine can provide protection against cognitive decline and usher a mental boost. But this isn’t anything new.  Besides the possibility of mild drug dependence, caffeine may bring benefits that contribute to the fact that many people use it. Some of these benefits seem to be related to the adaptation of mental energy by increasing alertness, attention, and cognitive function (more evident in longer or more difficult tasks or situations of low arousal) and by elevating mood. Accordingly, moderate caffeine intake, such as less than 6 cups a day, has been associated with less depressive symptoms, fewer cognitive failures, and lower risk of suicide.

A common proverb goes, ‘too much of anything is bad for you’. The caffeine in coffee is no exception. It can cause restlessness, nervousness, excitement, red face, gastrointestinal upset, muscle twitching, rambling speech, sleeplessness, and rapid and irregular heartbeat. According to the 2013 article published by LiveScience titled, “Normal or Not? How Coffee Drinking May Brew a Mental Disorder”(2), all these symptoms mentioned above are signs of caffeine intoxication, specially for coffee drinkers that show evidence of 5 or more of the symptoms.

This is not to say that caffeine is bad for one’s health. Looking at it from a mental health’s perspective, caffeine actually has many perks. But a warning regarding coffee is to drink it in moderation. After a certain consumption amount, coffee may actually do more harm than good. According to the same article by Tech Times, drinkers who drank more than one cup of coffee per day risked developing mild cognitive impairment twice as more compared to those who reduced their coffee intake by less than one cup of coffee per day. In essence, a cup a day is no harm, but anything more can be serious.

References: 

  1. Doctor, Rina Marie. "Coffee Can Help Boost Your Mental Health: How Many Cups Will Make A Difference?" Tech Times RSS. N.p., 03 Aug. 2015. Web. 17 Oct. 2015. <http://www.techtimes.com/articles/73780/20150803/coffee-can-help-boost-your-mental-health-how-many-cups-will-make-a-difference.htm>.

  2. Parry, Wynne. "Normal or Not? How Coffee Drinking May Brew a Mental Disorder." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 28 May 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2015. <http://www.livescience.com/34765-coffee-drinking-is-mental-disorder-dsm.html>.

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