Psychological Effects of Caffeine 

    Caffeine, which is among the mostly widely used and accepted drugs, is not recognized as a potent central nervous system stimulant, although it is.  Caffeine causes an array of psychological effects due to the chemical action of this drug.  Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system first and at higher doses it
effects the cortex, medulla and even spinal cord.  This page is designed to familiarize readers to the negative psychological effects caffeine can cause.

    Caffeine can cause numerous amounts of psychological effects depending upon the individual and the concentration.  Children are much more susceptible to caffeine intake symptoms and should drastically limit their intake.  One or two cups of coffee (150-250 mg of caffeine) can have seriously detrimental
effects on one's mental state.  An intake of just 100 mg of caffeine can induce such symptoms as dizziness, anxiety, agitation and irritability, restlessness, insomnia, and headaches in some people.  Those who regularly ingest caffeine, whether in pills, food, or beverage, would be less susceptible to these effects at a low concentration but have other issues to face.

     Caffeine is a drug and with repetitive drug intake the body can form a dependence.  This can occur within 6 to 15 days of exposure.  If caffeine is not consumed regularly after this period one may
feel lethargic or apathetic until the drug is ingested.  Individuals addicted to caffeine begin to show symptoms of withdrawal 12-24 hours after intake is stopped.  Depending on the individual, the usual symptoms of withdrawal include headache, fatigue, apathy, and even anxiety is sometimes expressed.  These symptoms peak around 36 hours and continue for up to a week after caffeine deprivation.  The body's mechanism of withdrawal can be reduced through dose tapering and/or analgesics.

    Large doses of caffeine can cause another type of disorder known as caffeinism.  In a human, an intake of 650 mg of caffeine per day can lead to this syndrome.  This amount can lead to aggressiveness and psychotic behavior.  This syndrome is indistinguishable from the mental disorder anxiety neurosis
making the individual appear confused or confounded with true psychotic states.  Although much caffeine must be ingested for caffeinism to set in, sleep is very vulnerable to even the slightest caffeine intake.

    Sleep can be greatly effected by ingestion of caffeine before bed.  In most cases caffeine causes individuals to take a longer time to fall asleep, decreasing the total amount of sleep received.  This effects poor sleepers more drastically than heavy sleepers.  Caffeine has also been determined deeper to affect stages of sleep and sometimes affects the REM stage of sleep.

    Individuals on medication should consult their doctor about drug interactions involving caffeine.  Caffeine should be avoided or used cautiously with such drugs as dextramphetamine, methylphenidaten, nicotine, pemoline, psuedoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine and sympathomimetics.  Combining
these medications with caffeine can cause nervousness, irritability, and insomnia.

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