Caffeine and related Methylxanthines
Medical and psychiatric literature includes many articles testifying to the toxic effects of these drugs. Although, caffeine is touted occasionally as having some benefit to the consumer, these chemicals are of dubious nutritional value. What is not in dispute are the following conditions, all made worse by the caffeine:
✦Side effects of Neuroleptics
✦Anxiety and panic
✦Arousal states (violence, loss of self-control)
And many others. There is even an antidepressant (Luvox), which cannot be taken without severe agitation, if combined with caffeine.
Caffeine in Psychiatric illness:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the mental health guide to specific mental illnesses, now includes Caffeine Related Disorder in recognition of the impact of this drug. Far from being a simple indiscretion that may trigger annoying physiological consequences (indigestion, headache, or palpitations), for the mentally ill, use of caffeine has demonstrable neurotoxic effects. These effects reduce the clarity of the sensorium, increase the intensity of thought disorder and produce irritability with heightened potential for violence. This places the need for restricting use of the drug on a par with other chemical treatments. Adherence to the regimen (no dietary methylxanthines) seen in this light is a liberating factor for our residents, reducing the frequency of overt psychosis and the frequency of acute care episodes and hospitalization.
Treatment and Caffeine:
We emphasize the strict avoidance of methylxanthines for clients. When ordered, this diet is an integral part of the chemical treatment. We believe that the methylxanthines are at least as important as medication in controlling psychosis and preventing violence. Experience over the years has born this out. Many clients are able to reduce their use of psychotropics, once caffeine is out of their system. This very gratifying result, approximating the effect of combination medications, carries no risk of side effect, unlike the pharmaceutical agents that may be needed to establish symptom control.