I had a patient once, long ago and far away, who was the worst “Caffeine Fiend” – properly known as “caffeinism” in medical lingo — I had ever heard of.
He was only 27 but depression and obesity added ten or fifteen years to his appearance. He was single and did not have much of a social life, but he did not much care. He was one of the earlier generation of people to build himself a career doing something with computers, with some sort of techie abilities which I could not understand at all. That enabled him to work from home at least part of the time, and only occasionally would he have to make a mad run to and from his employers’ office. This was in rural northern California, somewhat removed from the Silicon Valley mainstream of this type of activity.
The “from” part was important, as he did not much like to hang around with other humans, much preferring the company of his computer. Read more on Tale Of A Caffeine Fiend…
She was 33, blonde and attractively dressed. She had been stable on some medications for bipolar illness for many months before seeing me for a renewal. She told me her marital relationship was wonderful. They ran a little boutique together in the historic part of downtown. Not getting rich, but doing what she loved.
Only one problem — her husband said she became difficult when she drank too much coffee. I asked for some description of the “difficult.” She noticed she was nervous and had trouble cooling down later. She had “panic attacks,” which had not been a problem before.
They sounded exactly like the description of that disorder in DSM-IV – the one nobody likes applied to them – the “B” word. The things she said her husband had said about her sounded like the criteria for mania. No sleep, loud arguing, anger, nerves, etc. “Let’s look at cutting out the coffee,” I told her.
She normally drank as much as a half-pot in the morning at home before opening the boutique. That may not sound like much, but others have had similar symptoms from less. She had figured out herself that coffee in the afternoon messed up her sleep beyond description.
Caffeine has a LOT of effects on the body. If it had been a modern discovery, instead of the old myth about some frisky goat in the near east chewing berries off a tree and surprising a young shepherd by omitting sleep, caffeine would have caused the FDA a struggle to pass it because it does so many things.
First, coffee is absolutely NOT the only beverage that has it. There is generally more in caffeine-containing cola drinks. Read more on Caffeine As A Bipolar Trigger…