Any teen, any age, can go into any store and purchase an energy drink. Yes, you may be using them to stay up late to study, or in lieu of coffee. They might be the singular reason you were able to pull that all-nighter that saved you from failing history class. Yet, many teens only think of their short-term effects, the good ones, and not how they can affect ones brain in the long run.
Energy drinks are caffeinated beverages that work towards boosting endurance and performance. These soft drinks have very high levels of caffeine. Adults should consume no more than 400mg of caffeine daily. Energy drinks vary in caffeine levels, ranging from Red Bull at 80mg to 5-hour Energy at 200mg. However, the issue is, kids normally don’t just drink one. Research shows that 30-50% of adolescents and young adults consume energy drinks. They don’t realize to what extent these sugary tasting drinks can take a toll on their mental health.
The primary ingredient in energy drinks that provides the caffeine fix is called Guarana. This plant contains high levels of caffeine and works to stimulate the nervous system, muscles, and heart. However, the largest side effect noted with Guarana is anxiety. The journal Depression and Anxiety composed a study to understand the links between energy drink consumption and mental health issues. After surveying over a thousand 20 year olds, those who drank one or more energy drinks daily reported high rates of anxiety. Many who decide to use an energy drink as a studying boost may already be frantic and anxious. Therefor, by consuming this anxiety-provoking beverage they are doing more harm than good.
Not only can energy drinks increase risk factors for anxiety and depression but these soft drinks can be correlated with teen’s acceptance of drug use and abuse. Data from 2010-2018 discovered that more than 50% of teens who consumed multiple energy drinks in a day did not disapprove of regular or even heavy soft drug usage, and did not perceive hard drugs as risky behavior. These side effects of energy drinks are very serious and concerning.
What happens next?
Another large concern is when teens start to discover that energy drinks can be paired with alcohol. Johns Hopkins found that 27% of college students mix energy drinks and alcohol at least once a month. Each element is bad for the mind and body separately but this mix is extremely dangerous and can create heart arrhythmias and longer lasting mental health issues.
So, what should you do?
In the moment it may seem like the only solution is to drink a 5 Hour Energy and pull an all-nighter, but there are other ways to gain energy. Try even eating a few squares of dark chocolate, a cup of tea, or taking a 15-minute power nap. All of these will boost your energy without providing the long-term mental health risks that come with energy drinks.
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