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A review of energy drinks and mental health, with a focus on stress, anxiety, and depression

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gareth RichardsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background: Concerns have been expressed regarding the potential for caffeinated energy drinks to negatively affect mental health, and particularly so in young consumers at whomthey are often targeted. The products are frequently marketed with declarations of increasing mental and physical energy, providing a short term boost to mood and performance. Although a certain amount of evidence has accumulated to substantiate some of these claims, the chronic effects of energy drinks on mental health also need to be addressed.Methods: To review the relevant literature, PubMed and PsycINFO were searched for all peer-reviewed articles published in English that addressed associations between energy drink use and mental health outcomes. Case reports were also considered, though empirical studies investigating acute mood effects were excluded as a review of such articles had recently been published. Fifty-six articles were retrieved: 20 of these (along with eight more identified through other means) were included in the current review, and, because the majority addressed aspects of stress, anxiety, and depression, particular focus was placed on these outcomes.Results: Though a number of null findings (and one negative relationship) were observed, the majority of studies examined reported positive associations between energy drink consumption and symptoms of mental health problems.Conclusions: Though the findings imply that energy drink use may increase the risk of undesirable mental health outcomes, the majority of research examined utilized cross-sectional designs. In most cases, it was therefore not possible to determine causation or direction of effect. For this reason, longitudinal and intervention studies are required to increase our understanding of the nature of the relationships observed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Richards G, Smith AP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Caffeine Research

Year: 2016

Volume: 6

Issue: 2

Pages: 49-63

Print publication date: 01/06/2016

Online publication date: 24/05/2016

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 05/07/2018

ISSN (print): 2573-3397

ISSN (electronic): 2573-3400

Publisher: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


DOI: 10.1089/jcr.2015.0033


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