Updated: Dec 13, 2022
Although caffeine does not CREATE anxiety, for someone who experiences anxiety,
struggles with anxious thinking or panic attacks, caffeine can be a major contributor to eliciting
an increase of symptoms. Studies have shown strong correlations between caffeine ingestion
and mental health. This isn’t to say, ‘If you drink coffee or caffeine you struggle with mental
health.’ Rather, it can provide some knowledge and understanding for individuals who are
experiencing symptoms and want to learn how caffeine may affect them and their mental
health. We all experience anxiety on some level, it is a natural innate response. We also all have
mental health just as we all hold physical health. It is important to recognize and understand
our bodies and minds as individuals, as substances interact with everyone differently. After all,
caffeine is a substance.
In this blog, I also want to highlight and correct the myth of caffeine gives you energy. What caffeine does, is block the chemical in your brain (adenosine) that sends out the signal
that you are tired. At the same time, caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline.Although there are mental benefits to caffeine, higher doses are known to induce symptoms of anxiety. People with panic disorders, social anxiety and sleep struggles are especially sensitive. Some individuals are sensitive to caffeine without any underlying anxiety symptoms or disorders. It is important to be aware and understand your body. What we put in our bodies affects so much!
Caffeine-induced symptoms that can mirror anxiety include:
Increased heart rate
If you regularly consume caffeine, and abruptly stop, you can experience withdrawal symptoms,
Caffeine withdrawal is not considered dangerous like withdrawal from alcohol or
benzodiazepines, but it can be difficult and distressing. Below are some tips if you are feeling you may be sensitive to caffeine, or caffeine may be exacerbating anxiety symptoms or sleep disturbances:
Switch to decaf coffee! There are small amounts of caffeine in decaf so don’t drink a gallon of coffee thinking you won’t be affected!
Stop drinking coffee at 12pm
Switch to other substances: apothecary powders in milk and or water – so many healthy recipes and products out there for coffee alternatives that are natural energizers – be sure to do your research on the products so you are not purchasing mainly fillers
Eat a healthy balanced breakfast of carbs, healthy fat, and proteins so that caffeine and sugar are not the only substances in your system for the first several hours of the day!