A new study from Cornell University shows that coffee is good for your eyesight. But when does caffeine become harmful? Some researchers are investigating whether high consumption could be a sign of a psychological disorder.
Jessica Hayes starts her morning with a jolt of java and needs to refuel often during the day.
“I feel like it helps me be more productive, just in general,” explained Hayes.
Even when she’s running late for work, she won’t skip her coffee.
“I’ll call my boss and say ‘I’m so sorry I slept through my alarm. I’ll be there soon,’ but really I’m going through a drive-through. And then you can’t walk into work late with, you know, coffee that you just bought, so I’ll just drink it really fast in the car,” she said.
Hayes’s doctor advised her to cut back on caffeine for health reasons. She did for a while, but soon gave in to the cravings.
“It’s definitely something that I fight with myself all the time,” said Hayes.
Psychology professor Laura Juliano is considering whether to call this a legitimate disorder.
“It doesn’t yet exist officially. There may be a caffeine use disorder, but we need more research,” said Juliano. “For a use disorder, it would have to be people who are compulsively drinking coffee, and having it interfere with their behavior.”
Juliano says 50 percent of caffeine users report trouble cutting back or even quitting, even when there’s a compelling medical reason to do so, such as heart disease or pregnancy.
“It would be beneficial if treatment guidelines were developed in the same way they’ve been developed for tobacco. People have come to us saying, ‘Yes, please help me. I believe my caffeine use is problematic,’” Juliano said.
If you’re looking to cut down on caffeine, experts advise taping off slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Those can include headaches, sleepiness and irritability.