My Favorite Bit of Information From The Week:
Coffee has always been a source of interest for me. We consume over 400 million cups of it every day in the U.S alone, and it’s the second most consumed drink next to water. Beyond that, from a personal interaction, when I am very depressed it helps me function. A foggy day where I can barely focus on anything turns around into a day where I can operate – maybe not at full capacity, but any ability is better than fighting off the urge to sleep and not being able to pay attention to a damn thing. However, when I am anxious it can be THE WORST, I once had coffee before going on for a show I was particularly nervous for and I had anxiety attacks every time I left the stage… I guess it was more of a three hour long anxiety attack that was muffled when I was onstage. So, why is this? Does coffee help mental health or hurt it? As with anything it is nuanced and dependent on the person, and it is always best to check in with your doctor and counselor/therapist (if you have one) to figure out the doses of coffee (if any) that is right for you.
How Does Coffee (Or Caffeine In General) Affect The Brain: I found this video from TED-ed on why caffeine keeps us awake helpful in understanding why coffee could be helpful in treating depression. The caffeine content in coffee is the main agent in changing our mood with regards to coffee, so it’s helpful to comprehend it to some degree. If you are like me, and like to hear the same information presented in different formats, you can also check out this second video on how caffeine functions in our brain.
Note: Caffeine can raise your blood pressure, which is worth noting if you are chronically stressed from your environment or a preexisting condition and already have high blood pressure.
Coffee And Suicide Prevention: There was a study done by Harvard Medical that was published in July of 2013 in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry. It showed that drinking 2-4 cups coffee each day dramatically decreased the risk of suicide in it’s consumers by 50 percent. Now, this doesn’t mean that coffee is a cure for depression or suicidal thoughts, but it could be a supportive resource. The study doesn’t show if the folks drinking coffee were predisposed to suicidal tendencies, or if they (or those not drinking coffee) had professional mental health help, but it’s hard to ignore the numbers and it’s worth noting that coffee has proven health benefits outside of mental illness, especially if it could increase your overall well-being and could mitigate your chances of committing suicide. Now, it also mentions that “one large Finnish study showed a higher risk of suicide among people drinking eight or nine cups per day”, so too much of a good thing could have adverse affects on the body. Again, this is not a replacement for professional help, and if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts please call that national suicide prevention hotline immediately.
How Much Is Too Much?: All of the research I found indicated that there is no more benefit derived from coffee after 2-3 cups (or 400 mg of caffeine per day). In fact, going above that can have the opposite affect on you. If you check out the video above on “How Caffeine affects the brain” you could easily see why. The brain starts to over produce adenosine and your system requires more and more caffeine to feel good. Your body could get addicted to the dopamine (the feel good hormone), because coffee is a major drug. But coffee is not a medication for depression or anxiety – even though it could help mitigate them – and if you do not suffer from mental illness, it could give you a nice mood boost and other health benefits if consumed in moderation. It’s also worth noting that every different coffee chain has different caffeine amounts inside their coffee. A large coffee from Starbucks has a different amount of caffeine than a large coffee you brew at home or buy at Dunkin Donuts. You can check out this resource on how much caffeine is in each major coffee brand, and you can also check out Starbucks’ coffee content via their website. You can always access this information on the bags you buy at the store.
Note: If you have an anxiety disorder, coffee heightens your body’s nervous system and if you are already heightened it is not helpful to consume more caffeine. Your body is already alert. If you know you have an anxiety disorder, or another health disorder, please check with your physician before consuming coffee or caffeine.
Other Health Benefits Of Coffee:
- Helps keep you alert
- Helps with memory retention
- Helps fight of neurodegenerative disease: “Several studies provide solid evidence that people who consume coffee in routine are less likely to suffer dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It can also reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease by almost 32 to 60%. The older generation is advised to consume coffee in routine to enhance their overall mental health. It can also improve the metabolic functions while giving a major boost to your brain to perform better.”
This article eludes to all of the other research I have found on coffee, but addresses it all in the most succinct way. And if you are really curious on the topic, let me know and I can forward you more research.
How to Tell If You Are Self Medicating With Coffee: Check out this article from Dr. Judith Orloff on how to tell if you are self medicating with coffee. I found it very helpful.
Where to Buy Delicious and Sustainable Local Coffee: One of my favorite local business Dark Matter is an amazing company that pairs with Hope For The Day and they believe in sustainable coffee that supports the local community. I am not being paid or sponsored to say this, I just believe in this company and supporting local business that makes the community a better place to live. You can purchase their beans on their website, at any of their stores, or at Sip Of Hope (the world’s first coffee shop where 100% of proceeds support proactive suicide prevention and mental health education).
More About Dark Matter: Dark Matter Coffee™ adheres to a philosophy where quality coffees are sourced based on traceability, innovation and social responsibility. Sustainability and fair business practices are very important to us. While aligning with organizations like Fair Trade Alliance, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ, help to ensure fair practices, we have also created direct partnerships with farmers in El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. These partnerships have grown to become family, allowing us to directly source our beans from the plant to the cup. This sourcing transparency yields fair business practices and unparalleled quality control, a difference that can be tasted in every cup.
Update On My Show:
I Am Going To Be On Hope For The Day’s Podcast: Check out more on their website! You can also attend the live recording at Sip of Hope on Thursday Dec 12th at 6:00 PM! To attend is free, but you have to register here. I hope to see you there!
Only 24 More Hours to Participate In The Raffle: Raffle closes at noon on Wednesday the 4th of December.
Anyone who donates to the One Woman Hamlet GoFundMe this week will be entered to win a First Ascent Climbing Package For Two! You are entered even if you just donate a dollar! Grab a friend or family member and redeem this card for two registrations to a Learning The Ropes or Learning to Boulder class, plus a return visit and rental gear for both visits! Use your return visit to climb, take a yoga class, use our fitness area or co-working space with free wifi, and connect with our welcoming community. Retail value: $200! A great gift for the holidays, yourself, or just because! Check out more about First Ascent on their website.
New Budget: I have updated the GoFundMe to match the donations and income we received from the fundraiser, personal donations, and also more personal donations from myself. It now reflects what we need for our first show end of January! This show is completely free and a gift to the community, if you are able to donate I think of it as paying for a ticket to support art on mental health in the community and donating to mental health education for our youth in the schools. Contributing via the GoFundMe for the art you wish to see in the community. If you have already donated, thank you from the bottom of my heart- words are not enough and I would not be here without you, and the show would not be happening or going into schools without you.