Energy drink consumption linked to anxiety, depression, stress in young adults

Research continues to uncover the harmful side effects of energy drink consumption. A study revealed that energy drink consumption is linked to anxiety, depression, and stress in young male adults. The study was carried out by a team of researchers from The University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute in Australia who looked at the longitudinal links between energy drink consumption and symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress in young adults.

Energy drinks are widely marketed to increase alertness and boost energy. Moreover, they may contain high levels of caffeine, sugar, taurine, ginseng, guarana, B-vitamins, and herbal extracts. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), energy drinks are the second most popular dietary supplement consumed by teens and young adults in America, with multivitamins being the first. Moreover, males aged between 18 and 34 years drink the most energy drinks, and approximately one-third of teens aged between 12 and 17 years consume them regularly.

The study involved more than 1,000 participants who participated in the Western Australia Pregnancy Cohort. The participants completed self-report questionnaires in order to gather information on their energy drink use and mental health problems at the 20-year and 22-year follow-up. The research team used linear regression analyses investigated whether change in energy drink consumption across the two-year period was linked to change in Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) scores. Then, the researchers classified the results by gender and considered for baseline DASS-21 scores, socio-demographics, lifestyle factors, such as physical activity, drug and alcohol use, body mass index (BMI), dietary intake, and parental mental health.

After they adjusted for potential confounding factors, results showed that switching from an non-energy drink user to an energy drink user across the two-year follow-up was linked to an increase in DASS depression, anxiety, and stress scores in men. On the other hand, there were no significant links found for women. The researchers concluded that young adult men who consumed energy drinks had a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and stress. (Related: High-Caffeine Energy Drinks Like Red Bull Linked to Violence, Risk-Taking Among Teens.)

Energy drink ingredients harm the heart

The consumption of a 32-ounce energy drink causes more potentially dangerous changes in blood pressure and heart function compared to drinking 32 ounces of a control drink with the same amount of 320 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Consuming 400 mg of caffeine is generally regarded as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, energy drinks also contain other ingredients aside from caffeine, and little is known about their safety. Therefore, researchers of the study conducted the study on 18 healthy individuals who were then divided into two groups – the first group drank a commercially available energy drink that contained 108 grams (g) of sugar, 320 mg of caffeine, and other compounds, while the other group consumed a control drink with the same amount of caffeine, 40 milliliters (ml) of lime juice, and 140 ml of cherry syrup in carbonated water. After a washout period of six days, the participants switched drinks.

The researchers measured the electrical activity of the participants’ hearts using electrocardiogram (ECG). They also measured their peripheral and central blood pressures at the beginning of the study and at one, two, four, six, and 24 hours after drink consumption.

Results revealed that participants who drank an energy drink had an ECG change known as QTc prolongation and sometimes linked to deadly irregularities in the heartbeat. Moreover, both groups had similar increases in systolic blood pressure, but systolic pressures in the caffeine group had nearly returned to normal after six hours. This indicated that other ingredients in energy drinks may have affected blood pressure changes. Thus, the researchers suggested that people who have high blood pressure, heart issues, or other health conditions might want to limit or avoid drinking energy drinks.

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