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When you're sleeping, in a great mood or feel hungry, you have the neurotransmitter serotonin to thank. However, a lack of serotonin can result in adverse health effects. People often use negative behaviors to raise their serotonin levels, according to the UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center 1. For instance, while drinking beverages with caffeine may raise your serotonin levels, too much caffeine can increase your need for the neurotransmitter.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter derived from tryptophan, an amino acid connected with mood functions, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because low serotonin levels are linked with depression, difficulty sleeping and an increased appetite, it is important to keep your serotonin levels regulated.
Caffeine is a stimulant that causes the nervous system to become more alert when ingested. Present in the leaves, beans or fruits of more than 60 plants, caffeine is a substance linked with increasing serotonin levels in the body, according to The Journal of Young Investigators.
- Serotonin is a neurotransmitter derived from tryptophan, an amino acid connected with mood functions, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Present in the leaves, beans or fruits of more than 60 plants, caffeine is a substance linked with increasing serotonin levels in the body, according to The Journal of Young Investigators.
Dark Chocolate and Serotonin
Caffeine's chemical structure is similar to that of an adenosine molecule. Adenosine molecules are responsible for slowing brain functions that make you feel drowsy, according to The Journal of Young Investigators. Caffeine molecules can inhibit the effect of the adenosine molecules, causing your brain signals to speed up.
In addition to this reaction, caffeine increases cortisol levels, according to the UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center 1. Cortisol and serotonin must be balanced in your body in order for your brain to best function. Therefore, when your caffeine levels increase, your body must increase serotonin levels to balance the cortisol.
- Caffeine's chemical structure is similar to that of an adenosine molecule.
- Caffeine molecules can inhibit the effect of the adenosine molecules, causing your brain signals to speed up.
Caffeine can be valuable if you need a jolt of energy to power through a project or work assignment. However, when you consume caffeine frequently and in excess, it can have harmful effects. For instance, your brain adapts to the presence of caffeine. This means that instead of being boosted occasionally, your brain begins to require caffeine to function. The absence of caffeine results in a reduction of serotonin, which causes irritability, feelings of anxiousness and an inability to concentrate, according to The Journal of Young Investigators.
- Caffeine can be valuable if you need a jolt of energy to power through a project or work assignment.
- This means that instead of being boosted occasionally, your brain begins to require caffeine to function.
How Do I Decrease Dopamine Levels?
You can find caffeine in a variety of substances, chiefly those that taste bitter, according to MedlinePlus 2. Such beverages as coffee, tea and soda aren't the only items that contain caffeine. You also will find the substance in chocolate, medications and nuts.
- You can find caffeine in a variety of substances, chiefly those that taste bitter, according to MedlinePlus 2.
- You also will find the substance in chocolate, medications and nuts.
Do not ingest excess amounts of caffeine. Drinking two to four cups of caffeinated coffee a day is not harmful, according to Medline Plus. However, if you experience such symptoms as difficulty sleeping, headaches or a faster-than-normal heart rhythm, you may have consumed too much caffeine.
Limit your caffeine consumption if you are pregnant or nursing. Your baby may not be able to properly process the caffeine. If you are taking prescription medications, ask you physician whether they contain caffeine.
- Do not ingest excess amounts of caffeine.
- Limit your caffeine consumption if you are pregnant or nursing.
Dark Chocolate and Serotonin
How Do I Decrease Dopamine Levels?
Caffeine's Effect on the Pituitary
Can Caffeine Cause Hives?
Dopamine vs. Serotonin
Do Carbohydrates Raise Serotonin & Dopamine?
How to Replenish Serotonin
Do Caffeine Crashes Make You Depressed?
5-HTP & Cortisol
How Does Nicotine Affect the Brain?
- UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center: Serotonin & Behavior; Sheri Barke; 2002
- MedlinePlus: Caffeine
- Mayo Clinic: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
- Meredith SE, Juliano LM, Hughes JR, Griffiths RR. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. J Caffeine Res. 2013;3(3):114-130. doi:10.1089/jcr.2013.0016
- Richards G, Smith AP. A Review of Energy Drinks and Mental Health, with a Focus on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression. J Caffeine Res. 2016;6(2):49-63. doi:10.1089/jcr.2015.0033
- Brunyé TT, Mahoney CR, Rapp DN, Ditman T, Taylor HA. Caffeine enhances real-world language processing: evidence from a proofreading task. J Exp Psychol Appl. 2012;18(1):95-108. doi:10.1037/a0025851
- Koppelstaetter F, Poeppel TD, Siedentopf CM, et al. Caffeine and cognition in functional magnetic resonance imaging. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S71-84. doi:10.3233/JAD-2010-1417
- Harrell PT, Juliano LM. Caffeine expectancies influence the subjective and behavioral effects of caffeine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009;207(2):335-42. doi:10.1007/s00213-009-1658-5
- Lucas M, O'reilly EJ, Pan A, et al. Coffee, caffeine, and risk of completed suicide: results from three prospective cohorts of American adults. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2014;15(5):377-86. doi:10.3109/15622975.2013.795243
- Abdel-Hady H, Nasef N, Shabaan AE, Nour I. Caffeine therapy in preterm infants. World J Clin Pediatr. 2015;4(4):81-93. doi:10.5409/wjcp.v4.i4.81
- American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th edition. Washington DC; 2013.
- Turnbull D, Rodricks JV, Mariano GF, Chowdhury F. Caffeine and cardiovascular health. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2017;89:165-185. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2017.07.025
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and Caffeine. Updated October 23, 2018.
- Alsunni AA. Energy Drink Consumption: Beneficial and Adverse Health Effects. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2015;9(4):468-474.
- Lyngsø J, Ramlau-Hansen CH, Bay B, Ingerslev HJ, Hulman A, Kesmodel US. Association between coffee or caffeine consumption and fecundity and fertility: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. Clin Epidemiol. 2017;9:699-719. doi:10.2147/CLEP.S146496
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Pure and Highly Concentrated Caffeine. Updated September 21, 2018.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Updated July 2018.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.