Is There a Connection Between Caffeine and Anxiety?

Updated August 4, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Do you love your cup of coffee to get you up and moving in the morning? How about a Coke in the middle of the day? Or an energy drink when you're working long hours? There is a good chance that you fall into one of these groups or something similar. According to an article by Villanova University, approximately 90% of Americans consume caffeine in some form or another on a daily basis. More than 50% of all American adults consume over 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine daily, making it by far America's most famous drug. Let's explore the connection between caffeine and anxiety.

Working With A Therapist Can Help You Understand Your Anxiety

Can Caffeine Cause Anxiety?

Is caffeine-induced anxiety real? There have been multiple studies conducted to find out if there is a connection between caffeine and anxiety. One of these studies looked at caffeine use in 400 people. They found two ways that anxiety can result from consuming caffeine. The first is if people are genetically predisposed to it. The second is if people are not regular consumers of caffeine. Let's look further into these concepts.

The first results of the study showed that some people are predisposed to having caffeine impact their anxiety levels due to their genetics. That means that regardless of what you do to manage your anxiety, caffeine could have a negative impact on it.

The second result shows that the people that tend to be impacted the most are the people that don't consume caffeine on a regular basis. So if you don't normally take in a lot of caffeine and then find yourself having a stressful day and reaching for the coffee, Coke, or energy drink, it could hit your anxiety levels harder than others.

It's important to note that caffeine may still have an impact on people who regularly consume it; it just might not be at the same level as those that aren't used to having it in their system.

The Impact Caffeine Has On Your Brain

Coffee is known for ridding your body of certain essential nutrients that you need. For example, it can rob your body of magnesium. Your body uses magnesium to fight against anxiety and mental health. In fact, there are studies that have found that people can experience faster recovery from depression by consuming magnesium.

Consuming caffeine also reduces the amount of blood flow to your brain. When you are experiencing higher levels of stress, your body is already naturally not sending as much blood to your brain. So when you consume caffeine, you reduce the amount of blood flow to your brain even more. This has many negative health effectts. For example, the less blood flow to your brain, the worse your memory becomes.

The Side Effects Of Caffeine

While many people like to think that caffeine has a positive impact on them because it helps them to have more energy, this is not necessarily true. There are many potential negative side effects that caffeine causes, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Changes in mood
  • Insomnia
  • Twitching
  • Restlessness

Medication, Caffeine, And Anxiety

While caffeine alone can have a negative impact on your anxiety levels, this can increase even more when you are on certain medications. We don't tend to think of caffeine as a drug, but it is. That means that there are some other medications that it should not be mixed with.

You may think that these reactions of mixing caffeine with medications would be minor, but that's not always the case. There are many medications that can cause severe reactions when taken with caffeine.

This is a good reminder that caffeine consumption is something that we should be thinking carefully about. It is a drug that you are putting in your body whether it's through a capsule, a cup of coffee, or your favorite soft drink.

Caffeine, Anxiety, And Sleep

Something that anxiety and caffeine have in common is that they can both cause struggles with insomnia. Studies have been done that have found that consuming caffeine, even during the early hours, can negatively impact your ability to get the rest that you need. The caffeine in your system impacts the levels of REM sleep where the deepest sleep occurs.

Many people that struggle with anxiety have a difficult time falling asleep as well, or once they are asleep they wake up and have a difficult time falling back to sleep.

If you are already struggling to sleep, consuming caffeine can make it even harder. Therefore, you should avoid or limit the amount of caffeine that you use when you are already experiencing higher levels of anxiety and stress, or if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Anti-Anxiety Tea

While you may love your morning coffee or enjoy it as a pick-me-up in the afternoon, if you struggle with anxiety, it may be time to swap it out for something else. Even if you don't struggle with sleep, you may think, "Coffee gives me anxiety." There are many types of decaffeinated tea that you can drink instead. This gives you the warm cup to hold in your hand to help satisfy any potential cravings, without having to increase your anxiety.

Some of the most popular types of tea that can help with anxiety include:

  • Peppermint
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Green tea
  • Rose

You can also look for mixed blends that include these.

Manage Your Caffeine Consumption

If you feel that your stress levels are out of control and you are struggling with anxiety, try cutting out caffeine. There are other ways that you can get energy in a much healthier way, including getting more sleep, exercising, taking time to do some deep breathing, or going outside for some fresh air. These things also help to reduce your anxiety levels.

While you may love your morning cup of joe, Coke and pizza, or energy drink to get you through a late night, it's important to consider the impact that it has on your mental health. There are healthier ways to get a quick boost without having to risk increasing your levels of anxiety.

Addressing Anxiety

Addressing things that negatively affect your anxiety levels is important. However, it's also important to make sure you are addressing your anxiety itself. One of the most effective ways to do this is by talking to a therapist. They can help you get to the root cause of where your anxiety is coming from. They can also teach you important coping strategies that you can use when you feel that your anxiety is starting to rise.

You can talk to a local therapist in your area or you can work with one online. Explore your options and choose what works the best for you. Some people prefer in-person training where they can see the therapist face-to-face while learning coping skills. Others prefer the comfort and convenience of online therapy. Your life does not need to be controlled by your anxiety. You can take the steps that you need, like therapy and eliminating caffeine, in order to overcome your anxiety.

Other Commonly Asked Questions

Why is caffeine giving me anxiety?

Will eliminating caffeine reduce anxiety?

Should I drink coffee if I have anxiety?

How do I get rid of caffeine induced anxiety?

How long does it take to flush caffeine out of your system?

Why you should quit caffeine?

Will quitting caffeine make me happier?

Is Quitting caffeine worth it?

Does caffeine make anxiety worse or better?

How can I calm my anxiety naturally?

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