Is caffeine crash making you depressed?

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Page last updated: 28/10/2022

Is caffeine crash making you depressed?

This article will center around caffeine crashes, and how they can lead you to experience depressive symptoms. The article will show why this happens, and what are ways you can prevent it.

Is caffeine crash making you depressed?

Yes, a caffeine crash can make you experience depression-like symptoms. And although it is not possible to affirm it is a depressive episode, one should pay attention to their patterns to define if it is depression or a reaction to the withdrawal of caffeine.

This happens because once you have caffeine, your body will experience a rush of energy. But your serotonin levels will fall, and as the body has consumed all the caffeine, it will crash, and you may begin to feel lethargic, and experience many depressive symptoms such as irritability, headache, and difficulty focusing.

But let’s understand in detail how caffeine crash work, and what are the best ways to prevent them.

What is a caffeine crash?

Caffeine is something we often consume. It can be in the coffee you drink, but it is also a part of many other things, such as fruits, and plants. Most people use it for its stimulant effect, which will improve the person’s ability to focus, and their energy levels. 

Nowadays, there are also many supplements, energy drinks, and sodas that will give you a dose of caffeine. Those usually focus on the benefits of caffeine which can help people also lose weight.

But what some people may not know, is that even though caffeine gives you a lot of energy for a while, when the effects of it go down, you can experience something called caffeine crash. That will not only bring your energy levels to their normal, but it can also make it worse.

You can begin to experience caffeine crash around an hour after its consumption. And it can make you experience the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Irritability
  • Headache

All those symptoms can be mild, or even severe. And can last from hours, usually around 5 hours, to a week, depending on each person. These symptoms are often common in people that have depression, which can lead people to think they are depressed. 

What you need to understand, to affirm if you are depressed, or if it is a sign of a caffeine crash, is if you experience those feelings all through the day, or if it is mostly related to your caffeine intake.

Caffeine crash happens mostly because people haven’t slept well, have taken caffeine too close to their bedtime, or had too much of it. 

What happens to you, as you take caffeine is that, once you take caffeine, your serotonin levels will fall, and caffeine also raises the level of adrenaline, which will make your blood sugar level go higher, at first, this is what will give you energy.

But once your sugar levels are so high, the pancreas will release insulin to deal with all that sugar, and when it goes down, it is when you experience the caffeine crash.

So by knowing what causes caffeine crashes, you can learn what are ways to prevent them. Let’s discuss what they are.

Is caffeine crash making you depressed?

How can I prevent caffeine crashes from making me depressed? 

If you take caffeine as a way to improve your energy and ability to focus, know that there are some ways you can care for your intake, and prevent yourself from feeling the hardship of a caffeine crash. Here is what you can do.

Take care of your sleep 

Caring for your sleep is extremely important to prevent caffeine crashes. And although you may have trouble sleeping sometimes, you should try to have at least 7 to 9 hours of good sleep each night.

When that doesn’t happen, you may turn to caffeine to feel energetic during the day. And this can turn into something called the caffeine cycle. You drink coffee to get more energy, it will prevent you from getting a good night of rest, so the next day you need it again, and sometimes, you may even need more caffeine, making you constantly experience caffeine crashes.

Another matter, related to your sleep, that can make you more susceptible to caffeine crash, is that being tired, and not sleeping properly will make the symptoms of caffeine crash worse.

Be careful when you take the caffeine 

Caffeine intake can stay active in your body for a long time. And that should be taken under consideration so you don’t lose sleep and make caffeine crashes worse. Caffeine can make you sleepless hours, and reduce the quality of your sleep.

The effects of caffeine can last between 1,5 to 10 hours, depending on each person’s organism. But the average effect is 5 hours. So in knowing that, you can decide when should be the maximum time for you to ingest any caffeine. 

Keep in mind that it shouldn’t be active by the time you are preparing to go to bed, so you should avoid taking any caffeine around the middle of the afternoon, 5-6 hours before your bedtime.

Be careful of how much caffeine you take 

If you know that caffeine will stay in your system for about 5 hours, keep in mind that the more you take in that period will only add up to that first amount. And when they start to wear off, you can experience severe symptoms of caffeine crash.

But it is not only that. Too much caffeine can also lead to anxiety, agitation, a fast heartbeat, upset stomach, inability to relax, and disorientation.

The safe amount of caffeine adults can usually have is about 400mg a day, which is about 240ml of a cup of coffee. But you should take your genetics, and how you feel when deciding how much coffee to take in a day.

Be careful to stop taking caffeine

At some point, you may decide to stop taking caffeine or take less of it. What you need to keep in mind when you make that decision, is that stopping cold turkey can lead to symptoms of withdrawal, which are usually similar to the ones of caffeine crash.

They can usually start from 8 to 12 hours after your last caffeine intake, reach their peak between the first and the second day, and will most likely go on for a week. So if you decide to have less caffeine to improve from the caffeine crash, or stop it together, keep in mind to decrease it gradually.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Is caffeine crash making you depressed? 

Why is caffeine an antidepressant?

Even though the caffeine crash can lead to symptoms of depression, when the person drinks caffeine, they can have an improvement in their mood, even if they are depressed. What happens is that the caffeine will stimulate the person’s central nervous system, in the same way as an antidepressant medication would.

This can lead to elevated levels of dopamine and serotonin. This has even been related to lower rates of suicide. This leads us to think that there may be a lot of people that are self-medicating from their depressive episodes with coffee.

How can I fix serotonin levels without medication?

If you are depressed or have any other form of the condition that impacts your serotonin levels, there are things you can do to improve it. The first way to do so is through food. There is an amino acid, called tryptophan that helps boost your production of serotonin. Those can be found on turkey, plums, and salmon, among others.

You can also do it by exercising because it also triggers tryptophan. Exposing yourself to bright lights, especially when you are dealing with seasonal depression can help you feel better because the light may help synthesize serotonin. You can get that by exposing yourself to the light for 10 to 15 minutes each day.

You can also improve your serotonin levels through supplements. You can take pure tryptophan, 5-HTP, or other forms of supplements that increase your serotonin level. 

Massage is also a great way to make yourself feel better, the same way as mood induction, meaning doing visualization exercises that help you think or remember positive things, or even looking at photos.

Can caffeine change the brain forever?

If a person has a regular intake of caffeine, it can change the person’s grey matter. But this doesn’t seem to be an effect that will go on forever. It is temporary, and after some time, approximately 10 days without caffeine, the grey matter has set itself again.

What happens when I stop drinking coffee?

Once you stop drinking coffee, you may begin to experience some change in your life. The first thing is that you may become more hydrated. If you are not drinking coffee, you are most likely to increase your water intake. This will make you feel more alert, and even improve your sleep.

By the second week of not having coffee, you will no longer feel the craving for coffee, and if you manage to have other healthy habits in your life, like exercising, you will be able to feel more relaxed. 

The coffee jitters will also be gone, and you will stop putting yourself through the caffeine crash that can usually happen at some point in the afternoon. And finally, you may save a penny or two from not buying that much coffee.

What you just need to remember is to not quit all at once. Try to decrease the amount of coffee you have little by little until you stop completely so you don’t feel any symptoms of coffee withdrawal. 

What will people with serotonin deficit feel?

When a person has a serotonin deficiency they can experience many symptoms. People can experience mental health symptoms such as mood swings, and some mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. It can also lead to memory issues, change in sleep, attention, and sexual function.

As for the physical symptoms, serotonin deficiency can cause somatic symptoms, problems with movements, premature ejaculation, and orgasm. Aside from that, it can lead to digestive problems, incontinence, and clotting problems.

To diagnose low levels of serotonin, it is often used in a clinical interview, and the analysis of symptoms you have been experiencing. And through that, your doctor will decide the best course of action to deal with it.

Conclusion 

This article focused on understanding how caffeine crashes can lead you to experience depressive symptoms. It showed why this happens, and how you can prevent it. 

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-crash#What-is-a-caffeine-crash?
https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/why-do-i-feel-wiped-out-after-too-much-caffeine/amp/
https://healthfully.com/caffeine-derealization-8581486.html