Caffeine and Anxiety: The (Missing) Link

caffeine and anxiety
Is there a link between caffeine and anxiety? Does caffeine affect anxiety? Let’s find out!

Caffeine plays a huge part in the daily lives of many people. Everyone knows that there’s plenty of caffeine in coffee, right? But did you know that caffeine is in tea as well? It’s also most likely in your afternoon can of soft drink and that piece of chocolate after dinner.

You’d probably be surprised as to how many different foods contain caffeine.

But can caffeine cause anxiety?

Caffeine and Anxiety: It all adds up!

For most healthy adults a daily consumption of 200-300mg of caffeine, or 2 to 4 cups of brewed coffee, isn’t a cause for concern – but it is important to note that some of us are more sensitive to caffeine that others, with as little as 100mg of caffeine bringing about unwanted side effects.

Such side effects can include nervousness, restlessness, irritability, fast heartbeat, stomach upset.. All of which are also symptoms of anxiety.

Caffeine-induced anxiety is actually quite common. With our busy lives it’s quite easy to grab a coffee when you feel the afternoon slump coming on to keep you going for the rest of the work day.

But coffee isn’t the only thing containing caffeine, and if you’re at all sensitive to caffeine and anxiety prone, here is a list of other sources of caffeine that you may not even know about.

Caffeine can be found in:

  • Over the counter pain relievers
  • Non-cola sodas such as Mountain Dew and Sunkist
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee or chocolate flavored ice-cream and frozen yogurt
  • Weight loss pills
  • Energy water/Vitamin water
  • Alcoholic energy drinks
  • Breath fresheners
  • Some fruits and seeds

Note: Some products don’t even list caffeine on their list of ingredients!

Caffeine and Anxiety Symptoms Compared

Caffeine causing anxiety attacks is not unheard of. The symptoms experienced after consuming caffeine and the symptoms of anxiety are uniquely interwoven. Can caffeine trigger anxiety? Yes, it can. But it doesn’t for everyone. It largely depends on an individuals caffeine sensitivity or tolerance levels and also the underlying cause of their anxiety in the first place. That aside, let’s compare the symptoms of caffeine and anxiety.

Common caffeine side effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Dehydration

Common anxiety symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia

Conclusion: Most side effects of caffeine and anxiety symptoms are comparable!

How Are Caffeine and Anxiety Linked?

Let’s look at the primary use of caffeine. It’s a stimulant. And because it is water soluble, it rapidly spreads throughout your body after consumption, from your stomach directly into your bloodstream.

If you regularly consume caffeine, caffeine would be detectable in any of your cells at any given time. This means that from a single cup of coffee, caffeine would remain in your body for several days.

For those who suffer from anxiety and anxiety attacks, the last thing that you want to do is stimulate the nervous system. Consuming caffeine is like a jolt to your body. A surge of energy. This heightens your senses and in turn can heighten the anxiety that you feel.

If you regularly consume caffeine and also experience anxiety, considering the link between caffeine and anxiety as outlined above, it might be worth considering cutting down on your caffeine intake and seeing how it effects you.

If you have a story of your own experiences with caffeine and anxiety, please share!

  • Aaron

    Love your blog!

    • anxietycat

      Thank you! :)

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