Home Coffee making Can coffee cause anxiety? Yes. Here’s why and what to drink instead

Can coffee cause anxiety? Yes. Here’s why and what to drink instead


There is perhaps no beverage more ubiquitous across the globe than coffee. The American Psychological Association reports that up to 80% of American adults consume coffee daily (Starbucks really nailed that market, huh?) Across countries and cultures, in the morning, afternoon, or after dinner. , the smell of roasted coffee beans will find its way to your nose in most parts of the world. An offer of hospitality, a treat, a tool, a provider or warmth, sanity and a morning standard, coffee in many forms is a very normal part of life for most of us. Despite the fact that the vast majority of consumers don’t think twice before drinking a good cup of coffee, those who suffer from anxiety or social anxiety may want to think twice before brewing this pot. of 12 cups. Say what? Can caffeine cause anxiety?

The simple answer to “can caffeine cause anxiety” is yes and if that’s you, even moderating our caffeine intake can have a profound impact on our overall calmness and how we navigate our lives. the world around us. While caffeine is so readily available and accepted in our world, it is actually a mind-altering substance. So let’s talk about what exactly caffeine does to your brain, and let me give you some food for thought on the slime issue. Reducing a little or completely stopping caffeine could change your life.

Jiving or nervous?

In a 2013 review of the published medical literature on coffee, researchers noted that while more robust and well-controlled research is definitely needed, there are certainly well-documented health benefits to drinking three to four cups of coffee. per day (400 mg of caffeine) . Regular coffee consumption decreases a person’s overall lifetime risk of illness, also known as all-cause mortality. It also decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Additionally, those who drink coffee regularly have a lower incidence of a host of cancers throughout their lives. Regular coffee consumption has also been shown to reduce our risk of diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Yes, yes and yes !

Now that you’ve read some of the pretty compelling health benefits of java, I’d like to dig into the nuanced reality that while it’s generally not bad for most of us (besides being very socially accepted), smack coffee or drink more than a small amount a day, really does not work for everyone. Also, it might “not work” for many people who have anxiety but don’t associate caffeine as a trigger.

More recent research in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that no more than moderate amounts of caffeine (four to five cups a day or less) is the middle ground between too much coffee to harm and just enough to reap some of the health benefits. .

However, for many people who are sensitive to outside stimulants, even consuming small amounts can lead to mental health side effects such as anxiety and panic attacks. Anxiety and panic are two of the most common mental health disorders in the United States, hence the potential for overlapping and exacerbation of anxiety with daily caffeine consumption is high. Additionally, many of us overindulge in caffeine or consume it all day and never go “caffeine-free,” making it difficult to fully understand the true cause of anxiety. This link between anxiety and caffeine is so common that there is actually a medical diagnosis called caffeine-induced anxiety disorder.

So what exactly is anxiety? Anxiety is defined as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes such as:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Digestive disorders
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Shortness of breath
  • increased heart rate
  • Sweat
  • muscle tension

Harvard Medical School reports that caffeine consumption can cause anxiety-like symptoms in many people, such as:

  • Nervousness
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Sleeping troubles
  • Restlessness
  • rapid heartbeat

Catch the similarities? If you are already living with List A symptoms, why consume a substance that in theory should help you, when in reality it causes a double decrease in your symptoms and can make anxiety worse?

How does all this shake in the brain?

How does caffeine work? Caffeine works in your brain by blocking adenosine, a brain chemical that helps us feel tired and relaxed. Systematically while blocking adenosine, caffeine triggers stimulating hormones (two of which are responsible for the “fight or flight” response), adrenaline and dopamine. These hormones normally cause feelings of well-being, alertness and focus. It’s great after a long night of bad sleep with a grumpy, awake baby in your arms, or just to start the day. However, if you tend to relate to the descriptors: nervous, anxious, or busy, the activation of these brain chemicals may be an all-too-familiar stimulant and really spike your anxiety by worsening symptoms you might already be experiencing. subject to.

Note carefully what works for you

This is a great idea if you suffer from anxiety and drink coffee to pay attention when your anxiety kicks in. Do you drink coffee in the morning and then notice a wave of anxiety hitting you as you get to work? It can be as simple as slowing down and thinking about your intake. With caffeine being such a common drink in our lives, we sometimes don’t realize how much we’re consuming or forget to pay attention to it as a possible trigger.

I recommend tracking the amount of caffeine you drink daily for a few days. Do you know how many milligrams you ingest? When we are comfortable with our habits, we behave less conscientiously, especially with food and drink choices. As a rule of thumb there is usually around 100mg of caffeine per cup of coffee depending on how strong you brew it, if you know you are brewing a strong cup aim for a higher estimate. In general, drinking more than 400mg per day is not recommended, and for sensitive individuals, a dose as low as 50-100mg per serving may cause anxiety, especially on an empty stomach. There is an excellent list of caffeine content in common beverages from this Health Line article which I have included below for your reference.

Below are the caffeine content ranges of popular beverages:

  • 8 ounces of decaffeinated coffee contains 3-12 mg
  • 8 ounces of regular black coffee contains 102-200 mg
  • 8 ounces of espresso contains 240 to 720 mg
  • 8 ounces of black tea contain 25 to 110 mg
  • 8 ounces of green tea contain 30 to 50 mg
  • 8 ounces of yerba mate contains 65-130 mg
  • 12 ounces of club soda contains 37 to 55 mg
  • 12 ounces of energy drinks contain 107 to 120 mg

Alright, I’m Too Caffeinated and Anxious: Now What?

If you’ve had too much caffeine for the day, try this:

  1. Stop drinking caffeine
  2. Drink water with electrolytes
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Try to eat foods that will take time to digest and will help slow the release of caffeine into your bloodstream.
    • whole grains, beans, lentils, starches, nuts, and seeds are good options

Next: let’s make a reduction plan in the future. Consider weaning over a period of a few weeks. Slowly start drinking less and less caffeine and pay close attention to how you feel. If you start to have headaches, fatigue, or irritability, you may be cutting back on your weaning program too quickly. On the other hand, these withdrawal symptoms are temporary, so it may be worth holding off for about a week if your anxiety is really out of control. Maybe you’ll find that you still enjoy the stimulation, taste, and focus that just a half cup or cup of coffee gives you! My whole life changed personally when I reduced to ½ cup a day rather than 4-6 cups all day.

3 great alternatives to coffee

If you’ve cut your coffee intake completely and are curious to replace your morning cup with something that’s just as hot, delicious, and scratches the coffee itch, I have some recommendations for you.

Looking for more options? Here are some coffee alternatives that will give you a boost without crashing.