Is There a Connection Between Caffeine and Anxiety?
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.
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:
- Increased heart rate
- Changes in mood
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.
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:
- Lemon Balm
- Green tea
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 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?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can caffeine reduce anxiety?
While caffeine is one of the most popular drinks worldwide, many people do not know that caffeine and anxiety are associated. Caffeine intake can affect anxiety in some people. In fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has listed caffeine related disorders, including:
- Caffeine intoxication
- Caffeine withdrawal symptoms
- Unspecified caffeine related disorder
- Caffeine induced anxiety including anxiety disorder and sleep disorder
While the intake of caffeine can make some individuals feel anxious, there can be benefits to caffeine consumption. Benefits of caffeine consumption include giving an energy boost when you are feeling tired and aiding you when you are having difficulty concentrating.
Is caffeine bad for anxiety and depression?
While there are benefits to caffeine intake, having too many cups of coffee and high doses of caffeine can increase or mimic anxiety and depression symptoms, including:
- Nervousness restlessness
- Difficulties sleeping
- Increased heart rate
- Digestive problems
Additionally, if you have a caffeine habit that is unhealthy, stopping your caffeine intake can initially cause withdrawal symptoms:
- Anxiety symptoms
- Difficulties with concentration
- Caffeine and anxiety fatigue
- Increased heart rate
Can caffeine cause panic attacks?
Those who have been diagnosed with a panic disorder can be sensitive to increased caffeine, which in turn can increase anxiety symptoms or possibly cause an anxiety attack. Even if caffeine does not cause panic attacks in an individual, symptoms of too much caffeine can include nervousness and increased heart rate, which could feel similar to a panic attack or other symptoms of anxiety.
How long does caffeine anxiety last?
The effects of anxiety symptoms can begin to kick in around 30 to 60 minutes after an individual has ingested caffeine content. Once the symptoms have kicked in, they can last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours depending on how sensitive the individual is to caffeine and how much has been ingested. The individual’s body mass and genetics can affect how one experiences caffeine anxiety and how well they find ways to calm down.
What can I drink instead of coffee for anxiety?
If you are looking to calm your anxiety or feel the need to quit coffee completely, some alternatives to caffeine that will still give you an energy boost include:
- Green tea
- Black tea
Pay attention to your reaction to these alternatives as you search for ways to calm your anxiety.
Is decaf better for anxiety?
Yes, decaf coffee can provide benefits to your anxiety disorder. For individuals who still enjoy the taste of coffee and are finding it difficult to quit coffee, decaf coffee can decrease your overall anxiety and provide you with an improved sleep schedule.
How can I calm my anxiety?
If you are dealing with anxiety and finding it difficult to function normally throughout your day, you can try to calm your anxiety in the following ways:
- Go to the doctor to get advice, diagnosis, or treatment plan
- Find a psychiatrist
- Try cognitive behavioral therapy
- Anti-anxiety therapy
- Commit to healthy living including reducing intake of caffeine and alcohol
- Exercise daily
- Try mediation, deep breathing, mindfulness, or yoga
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Practice positive self-talk
- Journal your thoughts and feelings
- Learn what triggers your anxiety
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep
How long does anxiety take to heal?
If you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, your doctor may prescribe you a therapy plan to help manage the effects of your symptoms. Depending on the medical advice provided by your doctor and the severity of your anxiety symptoms, you can expect to see results as detailed below:
- Health benefits of cognitive behavioral symptoms in treating panic disorders or anxiety disorders are typically seen between 12 and 16 weeks.
Can anxiety go away with time?
Some low levels of anxiety could just be a part of living as a human. However, if you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or panic disorders, you may be experiencing excessive worry and fear that affects everyday life and causes a great deal of distress. Therefore, while there is no certain way for anxiety to just go away with time, medical professionals can provide advice, diagnosis or treatment that will help manage anxiety. With the right coping mechanisms, many people are able to go long lengths of time without feeling excessive anxiety. The best way to overcome anxiety is to seek medical help from a doctor and work together on a treatment plan that will help you get back to your version of healthy living.
Is anxiety all in your head?
No. Anxiety is often caused by irrational thoughts and feelings that we perceive as a threat to our well-being. The body’s biological fight or flight instincts can cause good anxiety that keeps us alive in dangerous situations, but sometimes it goes overboard. However, it is a natural bodily response, and our heads work with our bodies. Taking control of the “it’s all in your head” narrative could lead to a change in perception, that if you try to change your thoughts to be more positive and calm, you can regain control of your own brain. Understanding and accepting that anxiety is very real could go a long way to improving your mental health.
Can anxiety be cured completely?
Anxiety is a part of our everyday life and a part of our natural biological process of responding to perceived threats. Therefore, anxiety is not quite curable, but there are ways to help deal with excessive anxiety through treatment as prescribed by a medical professional.
What helps anxiety naturally?
Natural remedies to help anxiety could include:
- Daily exercise
- Relaxation exercises
- Herbal teas
- Herbal supplements
- Animal therapy
- Art therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
Consult a health care professional to develop a plan that will work best for your specific situation.
Can I manage anxiety without medication?
With the right coping mechanism, people with an anxiety disorder or panic disorder are sometimes able to manage their symptoms without the use of medications. If you are looking to manage your symptoms without medications, these coping mechanisms could help treat the negative side effects of mental illness naturally:
- Talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy
- Cut back on caffeine intake
- Exercise daily
- Avoid alcohol
- Eat a balanced diet
- Ensure your vitamin intake is balanced
- Relaxation techniques
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Journal your thoughts and feelings
- Reach out to friends and family
- Distract yourself with hobbies
- Deep breathing
What vitamins help with anxiety?
Research suggests that while vitamins alone are not able to cure anxiety, some vitamin supplements have been found to possibly help deal with anxiety:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B complex
- Omega 3
- Valerian root
For all guidance regarding vitamins and other possible treatment options, consult a doctor to find out which vitamins could benefit you, or if you have any vitamin deficiencies.
What deficiency causes anxiety?
Ensuring that our bodies are provided with the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals through a balanced diet is key in keeping both our physical and mental health in peak condition. When our bodies experience deficiencies, we can begin to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. Ask your doctor what vitamin deficiencies you may have based on your symptoms and see if he or she recommends increasing a certain vitamin intake. If your mental health seems to be getting worse, research suggests that may be experiencing the following deficiencies:
- Vitamin B deficiency
- Iron deficiency
- Iodine deficiency
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Selenium deficiency
- Magnesium deficiency
- Omega 3 deficiency