Thursday, July 14, 2011

High Stress Plus Caffeine: A Recipe for Psychosis Risk?

Charles Taylor/Shutterstock
Add stress to high daily caffeine intake, and what do you get? Hallucinatory symptoms possibly, according to Australian researchers. They grouped 92 community-recruited individuals free of psychiatric or neurological history, psychotropic medication use, and auditory impairment by self-reported stress levels and caffeine intake. Participants were asked to listen to white noise and to report each time they heard the song “White Christmas” during the white noise. Since the song was never played, each time a participant indicated they heard the song was recorded as a “false alarm.” All of the participants thought they heard the song being played, but those in the high stress-high caffeine group had the most false alarms.

The researchers concluded that increased caffeine consumption, in the presence of high levels of stress, has the potential to increase the experience of psychotic symptoms, specifically auditory hallucinations. The report was published in Personality and Individual Differences.

For more information about predictions of who may or may not be at a high risk for psychosis, see Psychiatric News at


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