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Coffee and Bipolar Disorder Don’t Mix

Your cup of coffee could be worsening your bipolar symptoms. Read trusted information on coffee and bipolar disorder on HealthyPlace.

Coffee and bipolar disorder have, up until recently, had very little connection in the mental health research realm.  Yet, as studies emerge, it is becoming more clear that caffeine can have a negative effect on those with bipolar disorder.  While there is evidence supporting this notion, more research is needed to confirm the harmful link between coffee and bipolar symptoms.  Nonetheless, the information that is available regarding coffee and bipolar is compelling.

Relationship Between Coffee and Bipolar Disorder

The relationship between coffee and bipolar disorder is not a positive one.  In fact, several studies show individuals with bipolar disorder who also drink coffee are far more likely to experience a significant increase in bipolar symptoms. Some of the noted effects, in terms of the bipolar disorder - caffeine interaction include:

  • Sleep Disturbance - it is not uncommon for caffeine to affect a person’s sleep cycle. And while a disrupted sleep cycle is undesirable for anyone, individuals with bipolar disorder may be affected on a greater scale. Sleep is essential for mood management and emotion regulation, two aspects of mental health that are already difficult for those with bipolar disorder. Not only can coffee impact sleep cycle, but ongoing use can increase one’s chances of developing insomnia alongside bipolar disorder.
  • Suicidal Ideation - beyond interruption of sleep, coffee and bipolar seem to have another, more serious, negative association. An Italian study from 2009 revealed that caffeine consumption increased suicidal thoughts and attempts amongst individuals with bipolar disorder.
  • Bipolar Caffeine-Induced Mania – people consume caffeine to feel energized, awake, and alert. But when it comes to coffee and bipolar disorder, those who are diagnosed should be very careful. A person with bipolar is far more sensitive to any substance that mimics that of an amphetamine, and coffee is one of those substances. Caffeine raises dopamine levels in the brain, which can cause increased anxiety, restlessness, and thus induce mania or hypomania (which can then bring on a loss of appetite when you have bipolar disorder). Also, when it comes to coffee and bipolar, some studies indicate that the sleep disturbance caused by caffeine can, in itself, bring on a manic episode.

No matter who you are, consuming coffee (or caffeine of any kind) can potentially affect your internal chemistry and brain function (Do Vitamins for Bipolar Help at All?). Caffeine is rapidly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and easily passes the blood-brain barrier. This means its effects take place almost immediately. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that coffee and bipolar disorder do not mix.

While it is imperative to be cognizant of the potential dangers of coffee and bipolar disorder, it is also important to be aware of other forms of caffeine consumption. Considering the wide range of beverages, supplements, and even food products containing caffeine, it is best to check the ingredient labels of anything you are unsure about.  Whether you are on prescribed bipolar medication or not, it is advisable to check with a medical professional if you enjoy coffee and bipolar disorder is a diagnosis you have been given.

article references

APA Reference
Jarrold, J. (2018, May 30). Coffee and Bipolar Disorder Don’t Mix, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar/foods-and-bipolar/coffee-and-bipolar-disorder-dont-mix

Last Updated: June 3, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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