I’m not a coffee drinker

…and here’s one more reason for me Not to start:

Coffee and stress are often associated …with mental illness

Article from the Star:

Drinking too much coffee can make you hear voices

Published On Wed Jun 15 2011
Debra Black Staff Reporter

The next time you reach for that extra cup of coffee, think twice. It could make you hear voices.

According to a recent study, excessive levels of caffeine combined with high stress can make people hear voices. This isn’t the first time java has been associated with hallucinations.

But the study, which appeared in the April issue of Personality and Individual Differences, supports the strong connection others have also found between coffee and hallucinations.

The powerful punch of too much coffee along with too much stress may be a potentially harmful mix when it comes to schizophrenia and other mental illness, says Simon Crowe, a professor of neuroscience and clinical neuropsychology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.

“People with high levels of stress and high caffeine (more than 200 mg per day) are more likely to hallucinate,” Crowe told the Star in an email.

Neuroscientist Crowe said he decided to do the study because he was interested in how schizophrenia develops. “There is quite a lot of support for the idea that people who have the illness have a genetic disposition, but not everyone who has the disposition develops the disease, only those who also have significant stressful life events.”

Since coffee and stress are often associated and have also been associated with mental illness, Crowe decided to look at both factors.

In the study, 92 volunteers (35 males and 57 females) were broken down into four groups: low caffeine and low stress; high caffeine and low stress; low caffeine and high stress; and high caffeine and high stress.

For the purposes of the study, Crowe defined high caffeine use as more than five standard caffeinated drinks per day. For more information on what percentage of caffeine can be found in some North American coffees, go here.

Each group was asked to listen to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. Once they were familiar with the tune, they were then given a headset that played white noise. The volunteers were told to press a button whenever they heard the lyrics from the song within the white noise.

The song, however, was never actually played for any of the volunteers, said Crowe. And yet those in the high-caffeine and high-stress category reported hearing bits of the song. None of the other volunteers in the other groups reported hearing anything but white noise, Crowe said.

Since the study was published, Crowe has replicated the results in a placebo controlled trial using 200 mg of caffeine. The effect was the same. “High stress certainly does (play a role in mental illness). Caffeine as a stimulant causes arousal and therefore adds to the picture.

“If you are highly stressed it would be best to reduce rather than increase your caffeine intake.”

About yolandalenin

I talk a lot. ______________________________________________________________________ I write even more.
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