Cola is an extremely popular caffeinated soft drink. The media have recently cited a poll in which 16% of the respondents considered themselves to be addicted to cola soft drinks. We find the contrast between the apparent prevalence of cola addiction and the lack of scientific literature on the subject remarkable. To our knowledge, this is the first case of cola dependency described in the scientific literature.
The patient is a 40-year-old woman, who when feeling down used cola to give her an energy boost and feel better about herself. During the past seven years her symptoms increased, and she was prescribed antidepressant medication by her family doctor. Due to worsening of symptoms she was hospitalised and later referred to a specialised outpatient clinic for affective disorders. At entry to the clinic she suffered from constant tiredness, lack of energy, failing concentration, problems falling asleep as well as interrupted sleep. She drank about three litres of cola daily, and she had developed a metabolic syndrome.
The patient fulfilled the ICD-10 criteria for dependency, and on the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) she scored 40 points. Her clinical mental status was at baseline assessed by the Major Depression Inventory (MDI) = 41, Hamilton Depression - 17 item Scale (HAMD-17) = 14, Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) = 2 and the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Scale = 45.
During cognitive therapy sessions she was guided to stop drinking cola and was able to moderate her use to an average daily consumption of 200 ml of cola. Her concentration improved and she felt mentally and physically better. At discharge one year after entry her YFAS was zero. She was mentally stable (MDI =1, HAMD-17 = 0, YMRS = 0 and GAF = 85) and without antidepressant medication. She had lost 7.2 kg, her waistline was reduced by 13 cm and the metabolic syndrome disappeared.
This case serves as an example of how the overconsumption of a caffeinated soft drink likely was causing or accentuating the patient’s symptoms of mental disorder. When diagnosing and treating depression, health professionals should pay attention to potential overuse of cola or other caffeinated beverages.
Keywords: Cola caffeinated soft drink, Depression, Addiction, Metabolic syndrome