It’s no surprise that caffeine is one of the most commonly consumed simulants worldwide. It’s seen as a relatively harmless drug/stimulant and has many positive effects and benefits to its use. While reports of poor mental and emotional health related issues due to caffeine intake are not that common they are still legitimate.
The effects of coffee on mental health include being less likely to commit suicide, preventing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, it helps increases focus, it can induce anxiety or heighten existing anxiety, it decreases likelihood of depression and it decreases the chance of cognitive failure.
So why should we care about the mental health effects of coffee? With coffee shops everywhere and some sort of coffee machine in nearly 50% of all U.S. households, it might have more of an influence on society than we think.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the extra jolt of energy I get from my morning cup of sunshine. However, I’ve also noticed that sometimes (depending on my emotional health) it makes me anxious and increases my stress levels.
I’ve found that skipping my morning coffee or opting for decaf can reduce those unwanted side effects when I’m feeling emotionally vulnerable.
Does caffeine make you crazy?
This is a very generalized yet common question. The short answer is no. Caffeine does not make someone “crazy”. The intense side effects that may sometimes be experienced can include an increase in anxiousness or “the jitters”.
In some cases, the inability to sleep might be experienced. When someone is in a sleep deficit for multiple days on end brain function and emotional health can be compromised. Eventually, depression could develop as a result of inadequate sleep.
What are the long term effects of caffeine?
While there are several benefits to using caffeine, there are also some negative long term effects to be aware of, especially with excessive use. Physical effects such as stomach ulcers and digestive issues are common. Also, heart rate concerns and headaches are typically seen with long term, excessive use.
There are also some mental and emotional health concerns such as increased anxiety, which can effect emotional and mental health. If someone is prone to depression or other mood type disorders, the onset of anxiety from caffeine use could occur.
As is true with any case where anxiety is present and untreated, further disorders do have a chance to develop. Again, this is only usually seen when there is an extreme use of caffeine. Also, the individual typically has other preexisting conditions that may make them vulnerable to other disorders.
Does Caffeine make Depression Worse?
There are no significant studies that suggest caffeine can make depression worse. However, there is a link between the development of depression with an ongoing lack of sleep which is often seen with the over use of caffeine.
Simply drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages in moderate, “typical” use will not cause someone to develop depression. In fact, the consumption of caffeine has been linked to elevated and improved moods which would help combat depression in the long run.
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Mental Health Effects Recap
To sum up what was discussed regarding the six examples listed above, here is a closer look at each example.
Caffeine boosts one’s mood and productivity. When this happens a sense of contentment, purpose and overall satisfaction are usually experienced. This can help prevent depression from developing which, in some cases, will ultimately prevent suicide.
Those struggling with serious mental health concerns that cause them to be suicidal should not consider this a solution. Caffeine will not prevent suicidal tendencies once the individual is at that point. It is merely a tool that has evidently prevented depression in some which potential reduces suicidal rates.
It’s important that you speak to a professional counselor if depression or suicidal thoughts start to emerge.
Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
Prefer decaffeinated coffee? No problem here. According to research there is an element that is produced in coffee when the coffee beans are being roasted that have been linked to the prevention of both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
The element that is derived from the roasting process are called phenylindanes. These elements have been known to inhibit certain biological matter from forming. This ultimately result in the development of these two diseases.
Pretty fascinating stuff! Basically the darker the roast of the coffee bean, the more disease discouraging elements are created.
Caffeine from coffee stimulates the brain which causes higher cognitive function which results in focus. When you’re tired and unfocused, it takes more energy to hone in on whatever it is you need to be working on.
Caffeine covered that gap and will have your brain “firing on all cylinders” which improved productivity and ultimately focus.
Induced Anxiety or Heighten Existing Anxiety
If you struggle with anxiety already you may easily notice the heightened sense of urgency and anxiety that comes from consuming coffee.
Many people avoid it for this reason. If you have not been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder but are self-aware enough, you may notice a spike in anxiety following your morning cup of coffee in certain situations.
Personally, I’ve found that when I’m overwhelmed with my workload, the absence of coffee/caffeine makes it easier for me to calm down and focus. I tend to feel less like my world is on fire and more laid back than if I were to have a cup of coffee before starting an usually busy/stressful day.
If you can relate, my advice is to opt for decaf and put on meditation music while you work. I swear this little technique has saved me many a meltdown in the passed.
Decreases Likelihood of Depression
As mentioned before, the elevated mood and energy that come along with your daily cup of joe have the ability to decrease your likelihood of depression.
Depending on the individual of course. If you’re prone to acute depression caffeine might be able to help from time to time, however, it is not a substitute for proper treatment.
Decreases the Chance of Cognitive Failure
Caffeine from coffee helps to stimulate the nervous system which improved memory, reaction time and overall engagement abilities. By experiencing these boosts in performance, caffeine essentially prevents cognitive failure in the future by “exercising” it’s important functions more deeply. Think of it like running.
The more you run (especially longer distances) the better your stamina. However, if you skip workout after workout, your results are quickly lost. The good news is that with practice, anything can be improved.
Staying “sharp” doesn’t have to be a burden when you’re consistent and are able to appropriately use a little caffeine to boost your progress.