(This is one of my top ten posts. Let me know what you think! Julie)
I’ve written many books on bipolar disorder and they all discuss mania extensively- but they don’t discuss energy drinks and how they might affect mania. The reason is that the explosion of these drinks on the market is so new that it wasn’t even a topic of concern a few years ago.
How did so many products get on the market so quickly? I think it was the success of Red Bull and it moved on from there. I have to ask: Are we really that tired? Or do we just like feeling buzzed? Who knows? But I do know it’s a potential problem.
Can these energy drinks lead to mania or exacerbate mania?
But it might not be in the way you think.
It’s not that the energy drinks are bad for you because they directly cause mania. They don’t. They are not like drugs that go into your system and potentially cause a manic episode such as meth, cocaine, ADHD stimulants or anti depressants.
Instead, the problem is that energy drinks significantly affect sleep. Consistent research shows that one of the top triggers of bipolar disorder is a change in sleep patterns. Thus, there is a link with the energy drinks and how they can rev you up to the point that sleep is significantly impaired or impossible. This is a fire-starter for mania. (Is there a drink called Fire Starter? It wouldn’t surprise me!) People without bipolar disorder can drink all they want. I know someone who drinks Rock Star all day and jumps around like a rabbit- but it is her choice. She doesn’t have a brain that gets manic. You or someone you care about probably does get manic. That is the difference. It’s why you have to make choices that consider bipolar disorder. Yes, it’s a bother and not fair, but it’s reality. Who thought a little can could cause so much trouble! The other night I was watching UFC (mixed martial arts) with my brother at a bar. The woman next to me ordered her second can of Red Bull. I thought- there is no way you could get me to drink that. I’d fly through the roof! Here is what she said when it arrived:It’s not alcohol, but it gets me plenty high!
Another example: I go to karaoke regularly and see people order a Red Bull and Guinness. I am no prude and have had way, way too much to drink in my lifetime to judge, but this just sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. And very few people stop at just one.
To be honest, having one energy drink early in the day may not affect your sleep. You will have to experiment. Problems start when you drink them at night, all day or have more than enough at a bar and then can’t sleep. Please think about it.
Energy drinks may be over the counter- but so are cigarettes. If you have trouble with mania (or anxiety), energy drinks are not your friend.
- For more information, click here to read an excellent article called Are Energy Drinks Safe?
- If you’re a parent of a child who feels that energy drinks are no problem- feel free to pass this on.
- My books that best explain mania the best are Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder.
- Information on my family coaching can be found here.
Note: I just received this excellent question: What about coffee? The first difference is the amount of caffeine. Some of the drinks have the same caffeine as a cup of coffee. Some have quadruple. Another difference is sugar content (one has almost the double of a Coke) as well as other ‘natural’ stimulants used in the drink. (Sugar free versions are available, but their stimulant content stays the same.) And finally, it’s simply rare for someone to drink espresso all day or all night. Can you imagine seeing someone with a big coffee mug of espresso and drinking it even while singing karaoke? Whew!
It’s as though the energy drinks lull people into thinking they are not really a problem as they are sweet and a pretty color in a vibrant can.