Caffeine and Anxiety (A Brief Guide)

In this brief guide about caffeine and anxiety, we will discuss if there is a link between caffeine and anxiety, common symptoms and some known facts

Caffeine and Anxiety: How do they interact?

Caffeine is the world’s most widely accepted drug that can cause severe addiction and harmful consequences.

Its mostly used and known to humankind for its effect on the chemical reaction on the human body. 

Caffeine acts by stimulating the central nervous system, which can be troublesome for some people coping with anxiety.

Caffeine has the ability to activate certain chemicals’ in the brain like noradrenaline neurons and affect how dopamine is released in your brain, stimulating your “flight or fight response” and potentially triggering an anxiety attack or crisis. 

Caffeine blocks key brain chemicals responsible for the feeling of drowsiness or fatigued while also causing the release of adrenalin, boosting the body,

Most users of caffeine do not feel the worry about addiction but it has been proved that constant use causes a dependency since it makes you feel energized, raises your awareness, vitality, and readiness.

This will also come with negative effects since once the caffeine has been eliminated from the body it causes irritability, over-sensitivity and anxiety symptoms.

The recommended doses of caffeine can range between 50 and 200 milligrams a day, so probably next time you’ll think if having that 6th cup of coffee would be a good idea, caffeine under normal circumstances will not cause an overdose but there have been isolated cases in which overuse caused an overdose-related death.

When thinking about coffee, we don’t actually consciously contemplate it as a powerful stimulant or a drug.

Especially because it is virtually used everywhere you go in the world and almost everyone seems to be ok with the fact that they actually need caffeine to go through their daily activities,  for some people, are even the first thing they NEED to get in the morning as soon as they wake up or get to work. 
If you want to wake up and start your day calm, find out the best alarm clocks for anxiety.

Although, for people suffering from anxiety, caffeine consumption can even become a very traumatic event.

Let’s take a look at why. 

Anxiety kicks in when we perceive certain situations as threatening or potentially harmful for us.

Caffeine is a stimulant of the nervous system, if we consume caffeine while having anxiety it will trigger a crisis, it would be like when we try to put out a fire using water.

It’s just not going to work and you will end up having a bigger and uncontrollable fire. 

Some of the effects of consuming caffeine are agitation, twitching, dizziness, nausea, increased heart rate, restlessness, sleeping problems, changes in your mood, diarrhea, among others.

So, do you see some commonalities now?

If, while you are already dealing with anxiety alone, with no caffeine in your system, and you also get to experience all or some of the symptoms mentioned previously, imagine what happens to your body when you do combine both. 

The main question here is, What would happen if we try to quit?.

Well, you can actually read the story of Victoria Young and you can get your own thoughts on the matter. 

Can Caffeine cause anxiety?

As accepted and commercialized caffeine can be in the modern world, it won’t hide the fact that studies and research have shed some light on the counterproductive effects that ingesting caffeine can cause negatively to the mental health of someone suffering from anxiety.

In fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5 currently establishes some disorders related to caffeine consumption, and they are listed as follows:

  1. Caffeine Withdrawal
  2. Caffeine intoxication
  3. Unspecified caffeine-related disorder
  4. Other caffeine-induced disorders

Even though caffeine does not produce the same health risks as it is the case of drug addiction from substances as cocaine, heroin, and nicotine, some caffeine users have reported feeling or becoming “addicted” to caffeine in the sense that they feel unable to quit or cut down their caffeine use.

Sometimes, people will avoid quitting caffeine to prevent withdrawal symptoms from happening.

Withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, irritability, inability to concentrate, drowsiness, insomnia, stomach upset and even, upper body and joint pain

Some known facts about the link between Caffeine and Anxiety:

  1. Caffeine tends to increase the release of stress hormones in the brain triggering anxiety.
  2. Caffeine affects the balance of neurotransmitters, this can increase with excessive consumption.
  3. Caffeine causes insomnia and low energy.
  4. You could be sensitive to caffeine.
  5. Caffeine might worsen hypoglycemia.
  6. The interaction between caffeine and medications can increase anxiety-related symptoms.
  7. Consuming too much caffeine can cause psychiatric disorders like panic attacks or depression.
  8. Caffeine prevents the absorption of essential nutrients potentially affecting your mood negatively and improving the chances of other disorders.
  9. Caffeine withdrawal causes an anxiety crisis. 

This is real people dealing with anxiety, see what works for them (Health.com):

Meditation

“I would really recommend adding meditation to your routine. It’s still something I struggle to keep up with, but it helps. There are all kinds of benefits to the meditation itself, but what’s equally as powerful for me is just setting aside dedicated time to shedding my worries and just trying to be present and aware of myself. Guided meditation is great but tries some silent as well. It can take some working up to but once you’re able to sit quietly, focusing on your breathing for 20 minutes, and being able to feel even slightly relaxed afterward is incredibly encouraging.” —pizzapenpal123

Diet

“Cutting out processed sugars and starches has made a huge difference. I’ve noticed that when I consume said foods, my anxiety ‘brain fog’ and depersonalization gets significantly worse. [I’ve been] eliminating all beverages except water. Caffeinated and/or sugary drinks are basically the devil when it comes to anxiety so I’d cut back on those if it’s hard to eliminate altogether.” —Ginacolada

Exercise

“Exercise keeps my mind calm—running is my favorite [sic], but I also dance and lift weights and study yoga. The aspect of yoga that has been the most helpful is savasana, corpse pose…it’s tremendously relaxing and would be a useful tool for me to pull out if I find myself overwhelmed with anxiety…I find myself getting really cagey if a long enough span goes by without getting any exercise.” —gazork_chumble_spuzz

These are real cases of people dealing with anxiety that might have given you ideas (or motivation) on how to cope with your anxiety in a healthier way to take the first step into removing caffeine from your life!

You might actually feel better, why not give it a try?

Why is this blog about Caffeine and Anxiety important?

You might have been struggling all your life with anxiety and maybe you are also addicted to caffeine.

Now you can understand why Caffeine and Anxiety are not supposed to mix, what type of reactions caffeine can cause and how that relates to anxiety.

Take the first step into a new you, the worst thing that can happen is that you might actually feel better!

Feel free to comment in the comments section down below!

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about caffeine and anxiety

Can I drink coffee with anxiety?

The exaggerated consumption of caffeine can increase the chances of an anxiety attack or any existing disorder by amplifying the symptoms.

It’s recommended avoiding caffeine if you suffer from anxiety since you can suffer worse symptoms or panic attacks

How can I calm my anxiety from caffeine?

There are a couple of ways that you can use to dispose of   related jitters in a short amount of time:

– Drink Water, this will allow the system to remove the caffeine from the system by the metabolic process.

– Work out, this will allow the body to burn out the caffeine in the blood since you are already active this will be a great way to quickly burn the extra energy.

– Wait for the effects to pass, sit down, read a book or just get busy while the body process the caffeine and removed from the body as waste.

– Drink tea, they are for their medicinal properties in relaxing the body.

– Take more vitamin C, this will provide you with more energy and health, it’s a great caffeine substitute and does not have any of its adverse effects.

Can coffee cause anxiety hours later?

We need to understand that caffeine creates anxiety and panic attacks if it’s consumed in heavy doses, in this case, if you consume caffeine 6 hours before going to bed you can experience trouble going to sleep, affecting even people that do not suffer from anxiety. 

Does caffeine make stress worse?

Caffeine is known to elevate cortisol levels in the blood as well as stress does, this means that elevated usage of caffeine can affect the health negatively, this does not mean that you cannot enjoy from a cup of coffee, but its recommended in moderate amounts as a mood lifter or booster. 

Does caffeine make anxiety worse?

Caffeine can worsen anxiety symptoms since this substance is a nervous system stimulant this can generate some effects on your body.

It’s known that it will generate a chemical reaction in the brain as similar to when we are under a stressful situation (“fight or flight” response) releasing adrenalin and endorphins, sometimes triggering panic attacks.

Recommended reading

  1.  The Easy Way to Quit Caffeine: Live a healthier, happier life
  2. Confessions of a Caffeine Addict: 40 True Anonymous Short Stories
  3. Caffeine Addiction Cure: How to Overcome Caffeine Addiction Naturally in 10 Days
  4. The Truth About Caffeine
  5. How To Quit Without Feeling S**T: The fast, highly effective way to end addiction to caffeine, sugar, cigarettes, alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs

What we recommend for curbing Anxiety

Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety

Anxiety Weighted Blankets

  • Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.

Online Therapy

  • Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.

Anxiety Course

  • With over 50,000 participants, this anxiety course may be just what you need to regain control of your life.

Light Therapy

  • Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night.  An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.

References

Psycom: Anxiety and Caffeine

Healthline: Does caffeine cause anxiety?

WebMD

Be Brain Fit: 15 links between Caffeine and Anxiety

Health.com

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