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Caffeine Use as a Modulator of Mood, Emotions, and Neurocognitions

by Jonathan J. Hammersley, PhD 3 CE Credits

Caffeine is a very commonly used psychotropic substance, with the typical caffeine user consuming about the equivalent caffeine content of two cups of coffee per day on average. This fact is unsurprising, as clear influences have been examined and observed across a number of areas including mood (i.e., increased positive mood, decreased irritability); neurocognition (improved information processing, reduced distractibility); alertness (i.e., increased vigilance) and increased wakefulness.  Further, preexisting vulnerability to attentional deficits (e.g., ADHD) or emotional distress may predispose individuals to use or abuse caffeine as self-medication for these difficulties.  Due to the wide array of caffeine effects, and the extensive use of caffeinated substances worldwide, the effects of caffeine use and resulting withdrawal from caffeine abstinence are important topics for health care providers to understand.  This course explores and reviews relevant information and research on stimulant effects of caffeine, many of them similar to other commonly abused substances, and the mechanisms which may underlie such effects.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours and ASWB Clinical CE clock hours.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Discuss the worldwide prevalence of caffeine use from a psychological and physiological viewpoint.
  • Describe the basic psychotropic effects of caffeine use and the specific mechanisms of action of caffeine (neurochemically & neuroanatomically).
  • Understand the impact of caffeine use and withdrawal on mood, cognition, and physiology, as well as the complex interaction.
  • Relate the findings on caffeine use to an ADHD population and integrate into treatment considerations.
  • Recognize the limitations to the empirical literature, clinical implications, and the questions for future research.
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