Stress, caffeine and hallucinations

A new report entitled The effect of caffeine and stress on auditory hallucinations in a non-clinical sample has found that stress can play a role in schizophrenia symptoms.

La Trobe University's Professor Simon Crowe, from the facility's School of Psychological Sciences, stated that consuming caffeine, in conjunction with being affected by stress, can lead to hallucinations.

"The results also support both the diathesis-stress model and the continuum theory of schizophrenia in that stress plays a role in the symptoms of schizophrenia and that everyone, to some degree, can experience these symptoms," he said.

Professor Crowe added that by consuming as many as five coffees a day, people are risking being affected by these hallucinations if they are stressed, which means the health risks of caffeine need to be addressed.

Dr Mike Drayton, a Chartered Psychologist, commented: "This is a great bit of research that proves the anecdotal evidence that the experience of psychosis is about the whole person and their environment and not just stress and vulnerability. It also puts another nail in the coffin - which by now is more nails than wood - of the medical model of psychosis.

"The research reminds me of Jason, a young man with psychosis I worked with years ago. He lived in a bedsit with the curtains permanently closed and lived off cigarettes, coffee and crisps. He also read horror novels and listened to Slipknot. The thing that helped Jason the most was seeing him as a whole person and not an ill person to be treated. We helped him with his diet, encouraged him to open his curtains in the morning and develop some more positive interests. Not surprisingly, his symptoms lessened and said he felt happier."