In recent years, there has been a lot of research into the effects of caffeine on mental health. According to these studies, it appears that some caffeine may be helpful for certain conditions, but may aggravate others.
Research regarding the effects of caffeine in depression has been mixed. Some studies have found that caffeine can elevate mood in people with depression, while other research has shown that people who are heavy coffee drinkers are more likely to be depressed.
One of the reasons that caffeine has a varied effect on depression is because of the initial lift that a cup of coffee provides. Once that lift fades, a fall-off in mood occurs. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente witnessed an improvement in mood in people with long-term coffee consumption. The study followed 128,934 nurses and determined that the coffee drinkers were significantly less likely to commit suicide than non-coffee drinkers.
Another study replicated these results, reporting that coffee drinkers had a 58 to 66% decreased risk of committing suicide. Paradoxically, a symptom of caffeine addiction can be depression. In conclusion, the consumption of caffeine has been linked with both improvement and deterioration of mood. Based on these findings, people with depression may want to carefully monitor how caffeine affects their mood.
It should come as no surprise that caffeine has been associated with anxiety. Caffeine is believed to induce anxiety by blocking proteins called adenosine receptors on the surface of nerve cells in the brain. For those with any type of anxiety, all forms of caffeine should be avoided, including coffee, tea, chocolate, caffeinated sodas, and medications that contain caffeine. Moreover, people with high levels of anxiety appear to be more susceptible to the actions of caffeine.
An often overlooked cause of insomnia is the use of stimulating beverages. Caffeine is a stimulant, the effects of which can last up to 20 hours, so some people will have disturbed sleep patterns even when their last cup of coffee or tea was in the morning. Sensitivity to the stimulant effects of caffeine varies greatly from one person to the next depending on how quickly the body can eliminate caffeine.
Even small amounts of caffeine may be enough to cause sleep disturbances in some people. Anyone experiencing sleep difficulties should avoid all caffeine-containing drinks such as coffee, tea, colas, cocoa and chocolate, especially in the evenings. Additionally, many over-the-counter drugs contain caffeine and stimulate the nervous system, making sleep more difficult.
When deciding whether or not to drink coffee of tea, an important consideration should be the advantages and disadvantages of each. Tea tends to be more of an antioxidant, and has been associated with health benefits whereas coffee has not.