In the last few years, we’ve seen a huge consumption of energy drinks, especially among young adults. In the last decade itself, energy drinks have become the second most consumed beverage or energy supplement. While it may not look like or sound like much to be concerned about, in various studies, the effects of drinking energy drinks on mental health state otherwise.
The studies say that young men (between 18–35) consume energy drinks the most whereas one-third of teens (between 12–17 years) are regular consumers of energy drinks.
To be frank, it’s not even the young ones’ fault. The marketing of these drinks targets the younger age group with claims of increased physical energy and mental activity, a short-term boost in performance, and more. While some small studies do claim the positive effects of energy drinks, others address the chronic negative effects energy drinks have on the psyche.
In this blog, let’s discover the relationship between energy drinks and mental health and the psychological effects of energy drinks – negative and positive.
The Link Between Energy Drinks And Mental Health
The idea of energy drinks began in the 1960s in Japan when an energizing tonic – Lipovitan D – was launched. As the 1980s rolled around, energy drinks and extra-caffeinated beverages gained popularity.
Since then, popular beverage brands such as Coca-Cola introduced their own caffeinated and sugary energy drinks but unfortunately failed to retain the market. However, in the late 80s, Taurine and Niacin were added to the ingredients, and the world was introduced to Red Bull. In today’s time, Red Bull, Monster, and other beverage brands have launched their own energy drinks in the market.
When we talk about the ingredients of these energy drinks, it all begins with caffeine. Caffeine in these drinks can amount to 80 mg per 250 ml (approximately three cans of soda). Caffeine is one of the most popular and widely consumed drugs in the world and is said to increase strength, performance, energy, alertness, focus, and even delay fatigue.
Other than caffeine, the other ingredients can include;
Sugar: An average energy drink contains at least 60 mg of sugar (twice that of a regular candy bar). High amounts of sugar are added to energy drinks to cover the other ingredients and because sugar fuels our energy, this amount of sugar in energy drinks means a lot of energy!
Taurine: taurine or amino acids are neurotransmitters that monitor energy levels and heart rate, and even activate the brain during stress.
Ginseng: A medicinal herb, native to Asia, ginseng can help increase memory, reduce stress, and increase energy levels. It’s also a herb that can help the body maintain its stability and vitality.
B Vitamins: B vitamins such as niacin (vitamin B3), folic acid (vitamin B9), and riboflavin (vitamin B2) can help convert food to energy in the body. So when you consume energy drinks with B vitamins, you benefit from it.
Let’s take a deeper look into the psychological effects of energy drinks.
Psychological Effects of Energy Drinks Positive Effects
Energy drinks can help increase concentration, performance, memory, and even reaction time.
The higher concentration of caffeine the energy drink has, the more it will give you energy and reduce mental fatigue.
Energy drinks can also help activate the nervous system, boost alertness, and stimulate cognitive functions, improving brain development.
Energy drinks can also help raise your metabolism and keep your energy levels up even when you’re working out.
Of course, with positive effects, come negative effects too. Here are some of the negative psychological effects of energy drinks;
Too many synthetic chemicals in energy drinks can be harmful to the body and brain. Many studies have shown that excessive amounts of energy drinks can cause issues such as nervousness, restlessness, headaches, insomnia, and hyperactivity.
Sugar in sweetened beverages and energy drinks can be addictive, especially for teens and young adults. The more energy drinks someone consumes, the more sugar they consume, and the risk of becoming addicted to these substances increases.
Excessive consumption of energy drinks can affect the nervous system and cause issues such as depression, sleep issues, aggression, anxiety (caffeine-related anxiety), substance abuse, etc.
While not all, some energy drinks might contain alcohol. Combined with other synthetic ingredients, alcohol can be a fatal combination and can impair your thinking and mental functions. This kind of intoxication can cause dehydration, increased heart rate, cause jitters, seizures, mania, and even hallucinations.
Energy drinks can mess up the heart rate and can increase the blood pressure, making it harder for the organ to function properly, increasing the chances of heart attack and even death in some cases.
When the transmission of the neurotransmitters is disturbed, causing a decrease in dopamine. Low dopamine levels can increase the risk of developing depression and addiction as you might start craving the energy drink to supply or replenish the dopamine levels.
The Stats to Know…
If you’re already struggling with depression, anxiety disorder, or panic disorders, then consuming energy drinks can increase these conditions tenfold. Here are some of the stats that show how dangerous consuming energy drinks could be;
Between 2007 and 2011, the number of hospitalizations due to energy drink-related conditions increased twofold.
25% of college students (or drinkers between the age of 15-24) mix energy drinks with alcohol and are likely to binge-drink more than students who do not mix these beverages.
In 2011, 42% of emergency department visits related to energy drinks consumption involved combining the energy drink with drugs or alcohol (including marijuana, prescription medications, and O-T-C medications)
While energy drinks can help us increase alertness, boost performance, and even reduce mental fatigue, they can also increase the risk of addiction, anxiety, jitters, and depression. Cutting the consumption of energy drinks is advisable as, in the long run, they can do more harm than good.
If you want the effects of energy drinks on your brain and body but without the side effects, then consider other substitutes such as herbal drinks, teas, and decaffeinated beverages. You can also try to stick to a healthy and active lifestyle. This routine can help you feel less lethargic and fatigued, resulting in less or no need for energy drinks.
I hope this blog helped you understand the many psychological effects of energy drinks. For more, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media. You can also share your thoughts about energy drinks and mental health in the comments below.