Milk Tea Addiction's Impact on Mental Health

December 16, 2023

Milk Tea Addiction's Impact on Mental Health

There is a study suggesting that the more milk tea you drink, the worse your mental health can be. Published in the Journal of Affective Disorder in August 2023, this study caught our attention as it provides some meaningful insights.

Milk Tea Addiction

Sequenced studies have revealed a relationship between unhealthy dietary habits and poor mental health. Recent studies have shown that milk tea consumption may increase the risk of depression and anxiety. However, these studies have only identified a correlation between the consumption of milk tea and mental health without determining if it progresses to 'addiction' from a psychiatric perspective. Researchers define "milk tea addiction" according to the 'addiction' criteria introduced in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Milk Tea Addiction includes:

  1. Consuming more quantities or longer periods of milk tea than intended
  2. An intense desire to continue to consume milk tea or fail repeated attempts to discontinue
  3. Consuming milk tea repetitively when feeling down
  4. Continuing to consume milk tea even knowing that it is bad for health
  5. Needing more amounts of milk tea to achieve the same effect
  6. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when reducing or discontinuing milk tea

According to research, the consumption of caffeinated SSB can cause addiction symptoms and withdrawal symptoms, similar to alcohol or gambling addiction. This puts milk tea addiction in a similar perspective to alcohol or drug addiction.

Milk Tea Addiction and Mental Health

People often utilize various coping mechanisms against negative emotions, such as stress or feelings of loneliness, as explained by the stress-coping model. An ineffective coping strategy could be the triggering consumption of food products such as caffeinated SSB. Therefore, if excessive consumption of milk tea can be defined as addiction, serving as a negative coping strategy leading to increased depression and anxiety, then we can infer that there is a close relationship between milk tea addiction and mental health.

Study Results

The research was conducted with 4,078 college students with the average age of 20.6. The main results show:

  • Loneliness has a positive correlation with milk tea addiction.
  • Depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation show a positive correlation with milk tea addiction.
  • Milk tea addiction explains the risk of depression by 26%, that is, approximately 26% of changes in depression can be influenced by the level of milk tea addiction.
  • Milk tea addiction explains the risk of anxiety by 22%, meaning, approximately 22% of changes in anxiety can be influenced by the level of milk tea addiction.
  • Milk tea addiction explains 4% of suicide ideation, implying that about 4% of changes in suicide ideation can be influenced by the level of milk tea addiction.
  • Loneliness increases the risk of milk tea addiction, and an increased risk of milk tea addiction increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies.

Addiction as a Coping Strategy

These results can be explained as a form of 'coping strategy'. When exposed to high levels of stress, individuals often engage in certain behaviors to evade real problems or reduce the negative emotions resulting from them. This strategy, however, instead of resolving the issue, often exacerbates the problem.

The pattern evident in milk tea addiction is similar to that seen in smartphone addiction or Facebook addiction. When individuals feel lonely, they tend to resort to certain forms of coping strategies (like consuming milk tea) to eliminate the negative emotions. This behavior either directly worsens the problem situation or indirectly intensifies it by hindering the development of proper coping strategies and encouraging avoidance.

It's essential to note that all forms of behavior can show a similar pattern as seen in milk tea addiction. The term 'dopamine addiction' is currently trending, indicating that these addictive behaviors often show up as inappropriate coping strategies faced with negative emotions.

If anyone finds themselves habitually engaging in any activity, even at the cost of obstruction and without any specific goal, it's essential to consider if it's originating from a place of laziness or lack of willpower or if it warrants effort on the mental health front.


Qu D, Zhang X, Wang J, Liu B, Wen X, Feng Y, Chen R. New form of addiction: An emerging hazardous addiction problem of milk tea among youths. J Affect Disord. 2023 Nov 15;341:26-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2023.08.102. Epub 2023 Aug 23. PMID: 37625703.

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