San Diego, CA — After having my daily caramel latte, I find myself wondering why this daily ritual is so dear to me.
Most people enjoy a daily cup of coffee in the morning. It’s something we drag ourselves out of bed for; that small bit of incentive to start the day on a good note.
Coffee is excessively romanticized in TV and film. One of my favorite shows in middle school and now is “Gilmore Girls”, which is a prime example of TV’s obsession with the coffee aesthetic.
Going to a coffee shop is a social event, or sometimes a place to study. At the end of the day, it is a way for people to get out of their rooms. It is a change in their environment or an excuse to talk for hours on end with friends.
If we further examine how caffeine is embedded into society one can see how it is viewed as a solution from a very early age. Kids ask their parents, “Why do you drink coffee?” The most typical answer is probably, “To help me wake up in the morning.”
As kids get older, the early school mornings become more and more difficult. They may start to wonder if coffee would make them feel better. If I had to guess, I would say middle school is about the time when kids start drinking frappuccinos and mochas. Even if the caffeine is not affecting their alertness, there is a certain placebo effect. Maybe it's the fact that they got a treat or that drinking coffee feels grown up.
In high school is when the phrase changes from “I want coffee” to “I need coffee.” Students balancing sports, school and their first jobs while running off four hours of sleep see coffee not only as a solution but the obvious option in the morning.
However, it is important for coffee drinkers to be aware of the potential risks of consuming copious amounts of caffeine.
According to a 2022 study published by the National Library of Medicine, the amount of coffee needed to increase the chances of a panic attack is between four and five cups in a single day. Depending on what kind of day you are having, this could seem reasonable or like an absurd amount of coffee.
Some studies show there are benefits to moderate coffee consumption.
An article published by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2021 indicated that “moderate coffee intake” can result in potential health benefits. According to Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard, drinking 2 to 5 cups “is linked to a lower likelihood of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver and endometrial cancers, Parkison’s disease and depression.”
However, other studies indicate that caffeine can increase a general sense of anxiety. Both of these potential effects exist at the same time.
It is important to note that approximately 90% of Gen Z have anxiety, according to a study of 1,000 people conducted by Harmony Health Care IT, and caffeine intake can contribute to the symptoms of anxiety.
A 2019 Pew research study indicated that anxiety was on the rise in Gen Z. This number has increased since the start of the pandemic.
I’m not here to convince you to stop drinking coffee or prevent you from enjoying your daily routine which may include the preparation of a latte or visiting a coffee shop. I’m here to offer some perspective. For those struggling with anxiety, it might be worth it to examine your caffeine intake and evaluate whether it is worth escalating your anxiety on a daily basis.
And remember, you can always go decaf!