I just got informed it’s apparently national coffee day.
[Of course, it’s the day I forget my coffee at home so I can’t enjoy some. *facepalm*]
Back last summer, I was pretty much consuming between 1 to 2 grams of caffeine a day (approximately equivalent to ten to twenty cups of coffee), an insane amount by basically any metric.
And I won’t defend it as a good idea, but it did keep me alive at the time.
For some strange reason, caffeine acts as a mood stabilizer on me, taking the edge off of the worse depressions and focusing me down through the highs. Most people don’t get this – caffeine can trigger manias, although it does seem to alleviate depressive symptoms for most people. Lara:
[C]affeine may bring benefits that contribute to its widespread use. These benefits seem to be related to adaptation of mental energy to the context by increasing alertness, attention, and cognitive function (more evident in longer or more difficult tasks or situations of low arousal) and by elevating mood. Accordingly, moderate caffeine intake (< 6 cups/day) has been associated with less depressive symptoms, fewer cognitive failures, and lower risk of suicide.
Caffeine acts mostly only the adenosine receptors, but does raise serotonin and dopamine levels, an at high doses, norepinephrine (World of Caffeine), making caffeine technically an antidepressant, albeit a weak one.
By increasing the transmission of dopamine, caffeine improves our mood and may protect brain cells from age and disease related degeneration. By increasing the activity of acetylcholine, caffeine increases muscular activity and may also improve long-term memory. By raising and adjusting serotonin levels, caffeine relieves depression, makes us more relaxed, alert, and energetic, and relieves migraine headaches.
It also seems to be protective against metabolic syndrome (Heckman et al.)
Caffeine has also been recently linked to weight loss and consequent reduction of the overall risks for developing the metabolic syndrome
And according to wikipedia, it [or one of its metabolites] also boosts lipid metabolism.
An inflammation (Heckman et al.):
[M]oderate coffee drinking was associated with an increase in the concentration of several inflammatory biomarkers, which included C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, tumor necrosis factor α, and amyloid A compared to non-coffee drinkers (Zampelas and others 2004).
And it may even be protective against Parkinsons (Heckman et al.)
Additionally, research has suggested that caffeine can aid in reducing symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD) such as the deterioration of gross and small motor skills, and tremors (Blandini and others 2000; Trevitt and others 2009).
I’m among the lucky few who don’t get physical side effects from stopping caffeine; I’ve never gotten caffeine headaches and generally can stop drinking coffee with no side effects other than a return of depressive symptoms. Which, admittedly, are bad enough that I probably won’t ever actually stop drinking coffee, even if moved onto a proper antidepressant.
I have long accepted the fact that I am a coffee addict, and am not likely going to be able do something about that anytime soon. I’ve found nothing else that just works for me, the way caffeine does. It calms me when I’m panicking about everything is going to shit, raises my mood when I feel like my life is going badly, and focuses the insane energies of my highs into something productive.
It’s not for everyone, but I seriously believe that caffeine has – and will continue – to save my life.
Lara, Diogo R. Caffeine, mental health, and psychiatric disorders.Journal of Alzheimer’s disease : JAD. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S239-48. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-1378.
Heckman M, Weil J, Gonzalez de Mejia E. Caffeine (1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine) in foods: a comprehensive review on consumption, functionality, safety, and regulatory matters. Journal Of Food Science [serial online]. April 2010;75(3):R77-R87.