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Coffee addicted? Look for the answer in your head

03.06.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin
Coffee addicted

Australian researchers suggest that caffeine addiction is a myth.

Many of us can’t imagine starting the day without a cup of fragrant, invigorating coffee. But, in addition to the energy boost, coffee carries a lot of health hazards. It provokes sleep disorders, causes dehydration of the body and washes calcium from the bones, it also disrupts the work of the heart and blood vessels. Moreover, coffee consumption causes a feeling of dependence, which is associated with its caffeine content.

Caffeine is a psychagogic and analeptic agent. It is a purine alkaloid found in coffee seeds, tea leaves, South American Paullinia (Guarana) fruits, West African cola nuts, cocoa beans and sea onion bulbs.

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There are also many lovers of the fragrant drink who consume it not only in the morning but throughout the day. And if for one reason or another, the coffee lover refuses to consume a nominal amount of coffee, he/she may experience drowsiness, apathy, irritability and often there are severe headaches associated with real withdrawal syndrome. What kind of addiction is it—chemical (caffeine) or psychological? The debate has not yet subsided. A group of researchers from the University of Sydney recently shared the results of an interesting psychological experiment.

The study involved 48 avid coffee drinkers who drank at least three cups of coffee a day.

The participants were divided into three groups, and for five days each of them drank just two cups of coffee—in the morning and the evening.

According to the terms of the experiment, the caffeine content in the coffee was reduced daily by 100 mg: on the first day—300 mg, on the second—200 mg, in the third—100 mg, and from the fourth day the coffee was already decaffeinated.

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At the same time, the participants of the first group were told about the gradual decrease in the caffeine content in the coffee they consumed; the participants of the second group were sure that they drank 300 mg of coffee for the first three days of the experiment; the participants of the third group were not given any information about the caffeine consumption during those days. All three groups consumed the same amount of caffeine.

In special questionnaires, participants recorded their condition on several indicators. As a result, it turned out that the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal were especially pronounced in participants from the first group, who were aware of the gradual decrease in caffeine content. As the dosage decreased, they noted obvious fatigue, drowsiness, irritability, distraction and mood swings.

Scientists have concluded that information about the gradual decrease in dose can lead to the so-called “nocebo effect”—a negative psychophysiological reaction of the body, due to the awareness of the possible undesirable effects on it. And unawareness of changing the dosage with its gradual decrease, on the contrary, reduces the manifestations of withdrawal syndrome. The results of this study are important not only from the point of view of psychology but also from the point of view of medicine, since the current standards for reducing the dosage of medicines assume patient awareness.

Now coffee lovers have a reason to think, to stop justifying their addiction to caffeine addiction and try to cope with it with the help of psychology – take the 7Spsy Course, which will help you get rid of coffee addiction.