The effect of caffeine on the human body, both short-term and long-term, has been studied in great depth, particularly its association with psychiatric disorders. This study aims to investigate whether there is a correlation between caffeine intake and anxiety and depression among college students.
A survey was administered to college students at Florida State University. Data regarding participant characteristics and caffeine intake were collected. Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 scores were used to assess symptoms of anxiety and depression, respectively.
A total of 114 participants were included in the survey, consisting mainly of women (94 [82.5%]) and junior level students (37 [32.5%]). The main source of caffeine was coffee (64.0%), and the main reasons for caffeine intake were pleasure (43.9%) and to study outside of class (29.8%); however, no association was found between sex or grade point average and number of cups of caffeine consumed. Upper levels of education (super senior or fifth-year students), depressive symptoms (poor appetite, overeating, sleep disorders, depressed mood), and anxiety were statistically associated with greater caffeine intake (P < 0.05).
As caffeine is commonly consumed and our study showed that its intake was associated with depressive symptoms and higher levels of anxiety in college students, further studies are needed to determine a possible causality, so that measures may be taken to educate these students about alternative methods for increasing energy and alertness.