Is Coffee Anxiety Real? And Other Anxiety Questions, Answered

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated March 31, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

Many people drink a cup of coffee because they need a little boost in the morning, and others count on it to keep them awake at all hours of the day or night. This is not something to worry about, but what if coffee ends up making you feel anxious, more often than not? Is there a chance that coffee causes anxiety, and if so, what can you do about it? Keep reading for answers to these questions, as well as a look at how you can limit your anxiety.

How Does Coffee Wake You Up?

Coffee contains caffeine, which is a type of stimulant. This can keep you alert and allow you to focus on things after you drink it. However, it can cause you other effects, which can be minor or significant, depending on how much you drink a day, as well as your tolerance for caffeine. These effects include things like changes in mood, upset stomach, feeling shaky, and elevated heart rate.

These are symptoms that are very similar to how people feel when they have anxiety. People with anxiety may not be able to tell the difference between the effects of having too much coffee and experiencing anxiety.

Is Coffee Anxiety Real?

Simply because coffee can give you the same symptoms of anxiety, does not mean that it causes anxiety. There is a limit to how much caffeine each person should have per day, and you must know your tolerance as well. If you ingest too much caffeine or coffee, it may cause you to become more anxious, which can make you feel like your anxiety condition is worse than normal.

How Can I Responsibly Drink Coffee?

No matter if you have an issue with anxiety and panic or not, there are a few responsible ways to ingest coffee.

  • Don’t drink it all the time. Many people like to enjoy coffee every day, and if you don’t have an issue with caffeine, there is no problem with you enjoying your daily cup of java. It is considered more beneficial, however, to take advantage of the benefits of caffeine from coffee when you need it the most (for example, when you have many tasks to finish on a certain day).
  • Leave it alone before bed. It is best to stop drinking coffee about ten hours before you go to bed. If you keep drinking it, you may not be able to get your rest. When you do go to sleep, the remnants of coffee in your system can affect your sleeping pattern as well, where you may not be able to get the best sleep.
  • Give yourself time to wake up. Try to wait a bit before you drink coffee if you usually opt to drink it first thing in the morning. Give your body a chance to wake up before you start offering it caffeine. Save coffee for whenever you feel your energy start to slump a bit, such as midmorning, or once you get to your office.
  • Wean yourself off it. If you plan to lower your intake of coffee or intend to get off it completely, do not stop drinking it cold turkey. You need to wean off it slowly, considering it can cause withdrawal symptoms in certain circumstances. Since coffee is already thought to be responsible for induced anxiety in some people, it’s important to avoid adding withdrawal symptoms to deal with as well.
  • Consider your other sources of caffeine. It is necessary to note that there are also other sources of caffeine you may be eating and drinking, so it may not just be the coffee causing you anxiety. Chocolate, tea, and certain medicines also contain caffeine, too, so be sure to read the labels on products.

Can I Drink Coffee If I Have A Problem With Anxiety?

You can keep drinking coffee if you also have an issue with anxiety. At the same time, you will need to be aware of how much you are drinking since you must watch your caffeine intake. It is recommended that you do not drink more than the recommended daily amount a day, which is 400 milligrams.  At the same time, you may need to drink far below this limit when you suffer from anxiety. It is also a good idea to drink plenty of water, so you don’t get dehydrated from coffee, which is something else that can worsen the effects.

Research suggests that people with anxiety are more sensitive to caffeine than those that do not experience anxiety. This is another reason why people with anxiety should be cautious when they drink coffee and pay special attention to the amount they are drinking.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a common feeling; everyone feels anxious at some point in their lives. Anxiety is a reaction that your body makes when you are stressed or fearful about something, like an upcoming test or project. It can cause you to feel worried, upset, nervous, or in some cases, cause you to feel panic.

If you feel like this from time to time, this is nothing to be concerned about. However, if this feeling happens quite frequently, you may have an anxiety disorder. Here is a look at a couple of the most common types of anxiety disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by someone experiencing anxiety regularly for at least 6 months. This anxiety can affect every aspect of a person’s life and may lead to changes in their behavior, sleeping patterns, and their ability to concentrate.

People with a generalized anxiety disorder will likely have to limit the amount of caffeine they ingest, so the effects it can cause won’t become more intense.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder occurs when a person suffers from panic attacks, often which come on without warning. Panic attacks are sometimes caused by a certain trigger, and it is possible that this can be too much caffeine for some with panic disorder. Caffeine may be a substance that people that experience panic disorder may need to abstain from entirely, depending on the severity of their disorder.

How Can I Limit My Anxiety?

There are ways for you to limit anxiety when you feel it. These include things you can introduce into your daily routine and professional treatment options that are available to help you work through your anxiety.

Treatment Options

Many of the things that can help you manage your anxiety are also things that will be beneficial to your overall health. Here are a few things to try at home.

  • Limit alcohol
  • Start an exercise plan
  • Limit or eliminate caffeine
  • Get proper rest
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Try relaxation techniques


People with anxiety, regardless of whether it is coffee-induced anxiety or not, should consider psychotherapy for treating it. With psychotherapy, you can take advantage of treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, which can be effective when it comes to limiting feelings of anxiety.

This type of therapy can be done in person or online. Some people prefer discussing potentially vulnerable topics like anxiety face-to-face, while others prefer the privacy that online therapy offers. Whether you choose to seek online or in-person therapy, it is recommended to confirm that your therapist has past experience dealing with caffeine-induced anxiety. (You may call your therapist’s office, or do a quick search online to check their past experience.) One service that provides online therapy is BetterHelp. They have counselors that can work with you via your phone or computer in a way that makes sense for your schedule.


Another treatment method for treating anxiety is through the use of medicines. There are certain prescription drugs that a doctor may prescribe, which may be able to limit symptoms your anxiety causes. This is something you should discuss with your doctor to see what is available to you. If you think you are sensitive to caffeine, you will need to let them know when you talk to them. It can make a difference in what they prescribe you.


Before you reach for that cup of coffee, you should know that there is a chance that coffee-induced anxiety may occur. The effects of coffee or too much caffeine are close to the symptoms of anxiety, so they may make you feel the same way.

If you experience anxiety and panic, you may need to watch your caffeine intake quite closely. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy it at all, though. There are options out there, including coffee that is decaffeinated. Decaf coffee does still contain caffeine, but the amount is substantially lower than other types.

If you have anxiety, even without coffee, it is important to seek treatment when you need it. The symptoms that anxiety causes can be harmful and mess up your routine, so they should be addressed right away. You can meet with your psychiatrist or doctor to get the support you need and begin to manage your anxiety.  Remember, help is available.

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