Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan
Psikiyatrist

Caffeine Addiction and Psychiatry

Being the most common stimulant used today, caffeine has become a drug that is easy to reach as a result of its excessive consumption. Considered a sub-member of the substance use disorder, caffeine addiction was classified as a clinical disorder by the World Health Organization and took its place in the DSM-5 manual under the title “substance abuse disorder”.

While the daily consumption of 100-200 mg (2 cups of coffee) is considered normal by the researchers, a consumption of 600 mg (8 cups of coffee) or more is classified as an addiction. The companies selling products with caffeine content were determined to have added more caffeine in their products than what’s necessary. Therefore, people become addicted to these beverage groups by falling a victim to the marketing strategy of the market. In their defense, the beverage companies claimed that caffeine gives a beverage a more delicious flavor. They attempted to wipe these discussions out by saying this is why they increased the amount. As a consequence of this situation, caffeine has become a substance that is accessible to people from all age groups. For example, the simultaneous use of caffeine and alcohol leads to heart attack, and many young people lose their lives every year due to unconscious consumption.

Some studies have revealed that the caffeine addiction has a direct effect on human psychology. In a case study, the psychiatric and psychological symptoms suffered by a female patient due to caffeine addiction were analyzed. Specifying that she had symptoms like anxiety, agitation, sleep disorders and headaches if she did not take 1000 mg (10 cups of coffee) caffeine on a daily basis, the patient stated that she kept taking caffeine because she failed to prevent psychiatric and psychological symptoms even if she wanted to stop the caffeine intake. According to researchers, this situation is called caffeine intoxication. Researches have revealed that caffeine addiction may lead to death, although this is a rare condition, if it is not brought under control.

The A2A-D2 dopamine receptor, which is released during the caffeine intake, is unhealthily released in the brain when the body has excessive caffeine doses. The unhealthy release of dopamine changes the body’s hormonal balance. In the researches carried out, it was observed that caffeine overdose by pregnant women led to an unhealthy growth of the fetus.

There are lots of damages caused by caffeine on the central nervous system in human body. Excessive consumption of caffeine triggers the methylxanthine and serotonin neurons, and it may cause permanent damage on the central nervous system. Therefore, psychotic and manic symptoms are clearly observed in caffeine addicts.

The treatment of caffeine addiction may take some time, yet it can be minimized through cognitive therapy methods. Moreover, it can be intervened through SSRI-type drugs in order to regulate neurotransmitters.

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