27 thoughts on “Caffeine and Bipolar Disorder

  • January 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    I too have Bipolar, it is interesting… but I do drink 3 cups of coffee a day. Did not recognise yet, its no good for my moods. If however I will, I will,change to decoff, innteresting.. More clear wather perheps! Love Nadina

  • January 19, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Another downside to caffeine: it worsens hand tremors if you’re on lithium.

    • January 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      I am glad you brought this up tyinsf. Although I am not on lithium(toxic)I am on other mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. I had terrible hand tremors. I also drank a ton of caffeine to stop the tired feelings from antipsychotics. I now limit my caffeine to a cup of half caff/reg. coffee and then everything I drink is mostly water. I no longer have tremors. Thank God!

  • January 22, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Dear Ms. Martin,

    What are your professional credentials that would enable you to make such a claim about caffeine and bipolar disorder? You also quote no studies. Is this just an idea that popped into your head and you thought you might write about it? There is so much journalistic pseudo-science out there, I feel I must challenge your science.

    • January 22, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Hi. Thanks for posting. I am not a professional nor do I pretend to be. I am simply a woman who lives with bipolar disorder. This post was, as are most of my posts, anecdotal. I was sharing information that I have experienced on a personal level in hopes that it might help readers of this blog. If you would like some facts to back up my own experience with caffeine, you can take a look at this article in which a professional – psychiatrist Jess G. Fiedorowicz, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry in the departments of psychiatry and epidemiology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City – chimes in on the effects of caffeine on bipolar disorder. You can view this article at http://www.everydayhealth.com/bipolar-disorder/the-five-worst-foods-for-bipolar-disorder.aspx. Hope this helps.
      Elaina J

    • January 22, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      This is as much scientific / medical advice as creationism is an explanation of life on earth.

      It is well known everyone has a different physiology and caffeine is a low risk drug. Like all drugs its about dosage as all drugs have side effects. If you have an issue with the dosage from actual ‘espresso’ coffee then stop drinking it. But have you been using real coffee? If not have you been affected by another chemical used in processing freeze dried versions.

      Than there is the studies of the transition of drugs through our bowel via the microbiome, then entering the lower bowel doing their job. Work is being done on many different drug dosage. Because the direct action of our diet feeding the microbiota is now known to create varying drug results and not just on those specific to mental illness.

      The studies have been well underway for several year on the microbiota effect on drugs. Anyone jumping to conclusions without basic understanding or current epidemiology is a quack or guessing.

      Best advice about caffeine effect from actual espresso, is a personal test and measure. Using lower the dosage till any effect disappears.

      Because this is not a seriously dangerous drug as CAM practitioners would have you believe.

  • January 22, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Does anyone know of correlation between nicotine and impact on bipolar? I am bipolar II and chew nictoine gum (lots of it) throughout the day. Would like to learn of any research in this area.

    • January 22, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      Nicotine often has good effect on schizophrenia this is known. Many schizophrenics self medicate as they discover early there is some relief from symptoms.

      Having said that, my observation is many who are mentally ill seem to use nicotine to lean on. The placebo effect is very real and most medical professionals are aware of the phenomena and how important belief is in wellness.

      But only a qualified medical professional in the field of your illness can actually give you a definitive answer about positive effects of nicotine in your specific case.

  • January 22, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I think that cutting caffeine intake is part of detox. If you started from the standpoint of just eating a natural diet, meaning garden veg and water, basically, and then you work up and out from there and look at all the additives, preservatives and non-essential stuff we take into our systems whether we realize it or not, then you say that the witches brew that we ingest, including our daily brew, has a lot of questions associated with it.

    A basic prescription for good bodily health, which might help lead to good mental health, has a lot of green leafies in it, a lot of fresh water, fruit juice, and other things in very small proportions. Now, compare that to the daily shovel-ful that we typically tend to ingest. Garbage in, garbage out, what are you doing to yourself, today? Mental problems, or chronic dietary problems, coupled with dehydration, and a basic lack of exercise? Obesity, diabetes, poor nutrition, all these things and more can have a pronounced negative effect on our physical well-being and resulting mental outlook.

  • January 22, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Caffeine effects my mania and my. A.D.D. so adversely I have to be careful when even eating chocolate. I used to drink coffee everyday and had a mean frappuccino habit in my early 30’s but gave it up. I’ve had a lifelong fight with chronic insomnia so at first it was just in an effort to try to sleep. I noticed though that my rages started to be less severe though and less frequent as well. This continued on and over the years I avoid caffeine pretty much completely now, except for the occasional chocolate. I still have horrid insomnia , but my moods don’t swing as wildly and the rages aren’t as acute.

    • January 22, 2014 at 11:55 am

      Good to know. My daughter (19) avoids caffeine since she was diagnosed. She now works in a Boba tea place! I find it hard to wake up in my depressed stretches. What do YOU do during those times?

      • January 22, 2014 at 3:46 pm

        When I am depressed I set small goals for myself. I find that structure helps me. Exercise is a great option to wake me up during depressive stretches. Even a ten minute walk can get you going. I won’t lie, I have trouble waking up when I am depressed too and tend to sleep a lot during those periods. Don’t get me wrong. I never said caffeine was bad, just that you should be wary of its effects on your moods. For some people it isn’t an issue, for me it has been. Thanks for posting.
        Elaina J

  • January 22, 2014 at 11:48 am

    This is an excellent point! I’ve found myself that depending on where I’m at in my mood cycle caffeine can cause a lot of problems. Oddly, it doesn’t have any effect at all when I’m depressed, but when I’m even a little hypomanic it’s like sticking myself with an adrenalin dart. I avoid it like the plague when I feel myself swinging into an up phase.

  • January 22, 2014 at 11:49 am

    This caution makes sense. But I’m wondering, is the evidence anecdotal or have there been studies on this too?

    • January 22, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      Hi. Thanks for posting. This blog post is purely anecdotal though here is a link to an article in which psychiatrist Jess G. Fiedorowicz, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry in the departments of psychiatry and epidemiology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City weighs in on the conversation of caffeine and bipolar disorder. http://www.everydayhealth.com/bipolar-disorder/the-five-worst-foods-for-bipolar-disorder.aspx Hope you find it helpful.

  • January 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I am CONFUSED. Your post was titled Caffeine and Bipolar disorder – so I came expecting to see some empirical evidence of the connection or some causal link… And you are telling us an anecdote about your experiences that seem to maybe be related to caffeine, instead? Is there some actual research out there about this that you could summarize here?

    • January 22, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Sorry if I confused you. I was simply sharing how caffeine has affected me in the past. Like most of my posts, this was a purely anecdotal post. But, here is an article in which psychiatrist Jess G. Fiedorowicz, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry in the departments of psychiatry and epidemiology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City talks about the relationship between caffeine and bipolar disorder. http://www.everydayhealth.com/bipolar-disorder/the-five-worst-foods-for-bipolar-disorder.aspx
      I hope you find this more helpful. Thanks for reading and for posting.
      Elaina J

      • January 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm

        Ah. Thanks a lot. That helps.

  • January 22, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I quit drinking caffeine in my 40’s but started again a bit in my late 50’s. Now, at 60, having two cups a day! I notice when I drink it, I get very manic-almost like I when I was drinking in my 20’s.
    Now realize, it is probably also affecting ADD.

    In the afternoon, I get very irritable. Must say I do like that immediate rush in the AM before I exercise.

  • January 22, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I quit drinking caffeine 9 years ago. I can control my reactions better now.

  • January 22, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Oh yes, caffeine does increase cycling in my case. I have been warned repeatedly about this from my psychiatrist. I am now trying to wean down to one or two cups a day. Thanks for this post, Elaina. Like lake michigan I had a drinking problem in my 20s so like most alcoholics coffee seems to be the substitute there. This post is good to know!

  • January 24, 2014 at 6:51 am

    Let me offer something a little different for coffee lovers who read this and fear they’ll have to give up the pleasure of coffee. There are very fine decaf coffees available. Some are so good you can’t tell you’re drinking decaf by the flavor or mouthfeel. Most decafs have a small amount of residual caffeine, maybe 10%, and this varies. You can check with the supplier.

    I write this as a dedicated coffee hobbyist aka drgary on Home-Barista.com. To get the best of these you’ll need to try the better boutique roasting companies, buy fresh, whole beans, let them age until peak (the first few days are for releasing CO2, grind them with a burr grinder, not a whirly blade, and brew them at the appropriate temperature. Once a coffee has reached peak, after at least five days, I freeze it in an airtight jar and take out the amount I want to brew. Many top roasting companies will mail them to you. Try Counter Culture Coffee, Red Bird Coffee, Mr. Espresso. All have fine decafs. I also roast my own single origin decafs that are water processed. Home-Barista and other coffee hobbyist sites have forums where people discuss the better decafs they’ve found.

    • January 24, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Of course if you have any concern about caffeine disturbing your sleep or affecting your Bipolar Disorder, avoid it altogether or consult your physician before even drinking decaf.

  • January 24, 2014 at 9:30 am

    I have schizoaffective disorder and of course struggle with bouts of hypomania and severe depression and wonder if there is any research on the benefits of caffeine for depressed states. When its hard to get out of bed, get my 9 year old son, who has A.D.H.D, up and ready for school, coffee seems to be the only thing that will snap me out of my depression and give me the energy to keep up with him. As a recovering addict I may tend to rely too much on meds and foreign substances, but still would like to hear if there is any science behind my assumed benefits. Thanks.

  • January 24, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks Gary, I stopped drinking regular coffee a couple years ago. I only drink decalf coffee these days, I have low blood sugar and try to stay away from sugar as much as I can and eat every few hours. It took me awhile but I don’t have the problems that I did with my Bipolar

    It’s been hard dealing with this all these years but I feel so much better knowing I have SOME control over it. I know it never goes away but I hope someday they find a cure for all of you suffering from it out there.

  • February 4, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    After several weeks away fro m this thread, it is interesting to read the posts.

    Here is a REALITY CHECK.

    Most are projecting ‘caffeine’ as central issue of harm.
    The unfounded level of belief is interesting, because the most caffeine does to human physiology is as follows;

    Caffeine can increase blood pressure in non-habitual consumers.

    Caffeine ‘may’ reduce control of fine motor movements.

    Caffeine ‘can increase’ cortisol secretion, some tolerance is developed.

    Caffeine ‘can contribute’ to increased insomnia and sleep latency.

    Caffeine is ‘addictive’. [if consuming excessive amounts like any drug]

    Caffeine withdrawal can produce headache, fatigue and decreased alertness.

    High doses of caffeine (300 mg or higher) can cause anxiety.

    High caffeine consumption has been linked to an increase in the likelihood of experiencing auditory hallucinations.

    High caffeine consumption accelerates bone loss at the spine in elderly postmenopausal women.

    Keywords in that list are ‘can’ ‘may’ ‘linked’ and by no stretch of anyones imagination do those words mean – DO CAUSE –

    What is interesting is few here have actually mentioned any of these symptoms I have listed.

    Not to mention that a safe level of caffeine will do little harm to 99% of humans.

    So the interior question is; why do I need to project caffeine is my source of health issues?

    Because a standard espresso shot is around 52 mg of caffeine, and is a very low dose, so 1-6 cups are moderate consumption.

    So anyone having over 300 mg per day ‘may’ be at risk of the above symptoms, however this is not certain.

    So if you feel they happen earlier, just ‘test and measure’ then lower your dosage.

    The greatest risk reading negative information is not being able to discern what are facts.

    It is well to remember our cognitive biases and ask interior questions.


    “Feelings are not facts”

  • October 29, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you for this post. I went manic on antidepressants and one immediate response was a craving for caffeine and chocolate, substituting for food and water. It was terrible! I got into arguments at work with bosses, and couldn’t sleep, which lead to losing my job. Doctor fired me. Anxiety level very high. I’ve read that the mania means a Borderline disorder has crossed over into BP, and another article on Psychcentral has said the same. I never did drugs like coke, but the stories I’ve heard from people of what that is like, sound like my condition. I was miserable and suicidal.
    Getting off what were the wrong drugs for me, and then getting off caffeine and chocolate and into whole food and water, has worked wonders. My mantra now is “That is not food.” But the craving for caffeine is seasonal and with fall, starting up again. -Hope this helps someone else.


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