Caffeine has been taking the world by storm. It has been taking over the lives of many people in almost any setting as it is being taken in everyday by many people unintentionally and intentionally because of the known perks that it offer.
Pharmacology described caffeine as “the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world.” Coffee break has been a culture in almost all offices. Even students partner with caffeine during their zombie nights of studying. Fast food beverages mostly contain caffeine. Chocolates and chocolate containing products, one of the most classic sweet cravings also has it.
It is actually a naturally occurring substance found in the leaves, seeds or fruits of more than 60 plants, coffee and cocoa beans, kola nuts and tea leaves, to name a few. It usually comes in beverages taken in to perk up ones day as it is technically classified as a central nervous system stimulant. Effects can be felt as quickly as 15 minutes after ingestion. It remains in ones body for several hours. After 6 hours, half of the ingested amount is eliminated.
Effects vary depending on the amount consumed throughout the day. Desirable effects can be enjoyed if caffeine is consumed in moderation. Positive mood effects include increased well-being, happiness, energetic arousal, alertness, and sociability, but if taken in large doses (200 mg or greater), initial effects would be anxiety, nervousness, and jitteriness.
Because of its wide range of effects, people should know how to draw the line between what is OK and what is too much as there is such a thing as psychiatric conditions associated with caffeine: caffeine intoxication, caffeine withdrawal, caffeine dependence, caffeine-induced sleep disorder, and caffeine-induced anxiety disorder.
Caffeine intoxication is the group of symptoms that arise in response to increased consumption of caffeine. Aside from anxiety and nervousness, a person can also feel extreme excitement, insomnia, rambling flow of thought and speech, gastrointestinal upset, tremors, tachycardia, diuresis, muscle twitching, periods of inexhaustibility, and psychomotor agitation. In addition, there have been reports of patients with caffeine intoxication having fever, irritability, tremors, sensory disturbances, tachypnea, and headaches. Experts say that these common manifestations are being experienced when more than 500mg is consumed.
These symptoms however, would vary from person to person. It is also affected by individual sensitivity and tolerance. For instance, a person with low sensitivity and high tolerance may need higher doses before intoxication symptoms can be experienced.
There are also some conditions which may be caffeine induced: the caffeine induced sleep disorder and anxiety disorder. Studies have shown that increased anxiety ratings and panic attack episodes usually happen at 200 mg consumption or more in the general population. Individuals who already have panic and anxiety disorders are even more sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
It has also been long established that caffeine has a significant effect on sleep. It can delay the onset of sleep, reduce total sleep time, alter normal stages of sleep, and decrease overall quality of sleep. Studies show that these effects are not only exerted by caffeine taken in before bedtime. Caffeine taken in anytime throughout the day or even during the morning can still counter attack your sleep.
On the other hand, there is what we call caffeine tolerance. Tolerance in general, when we talk about substance use, refers the decrease in responsiveness of a person to a drug after repeated drug exposure. Daily high doses of caffeine (750 to 1200 mg/day spread throughout the day) can produce complete tolerance. At relatively lower dietary doses, incomplete tolerance may be produced, where there is only disruption in sleep.
So when drinking anything with caffeine, just remember to not abuse it because it has the potential to abuse your body as well.