Caffeine: Good or Bad for Anxiety?

“It’s no surprise that caffeine gets so much attention from scientists these days. After all, 80% of Americans drink it. In fact, occasional coffee consumption rose 6% in the last year alone, according to the National Coffee Association. At the same time, panic and other anxiety disorders have become the most common mental illnesses in the United States. When caffeine overlaps with these disorders, the result can be trouble.” – WebMD

Caffeine can be your best friend or your worst enemy especially if you have anxiety. For me, caffeine was causing my anxiety attacks to escalate with a racing heart and a faint feeling.

How Do I Know If Caffeine Is Causing My Anxiety?

It’s simple, but time-consuming. Over the course of a week, keep a journal of your anxiety. Make sure to include:

  • The symptoms you are feeling
  • The day and time you are having these symptoms
  • What you were doing before the symptoms began

Once you’ve completed your journal, review it to see what your triggers are. You should have a good idea by now what may be causing your anxiety. If you get a racing heart after you’ve had your morning coffee, then you’ve found your trigger…caffeine.

What Symptoms Can Caffeine Cause?

Caffeine can cause a wide array of symptoms that mimic “fight or flight” scenarios. For example, someone who had too many glasses of sweet tea may feel like they’re having a heart attack because their heart started racing and wouldn’t stop. Below you’ll find a list of other symptoms caffeine can cause:

  • Racing or pounding heart
  • Jittery
  • Nervous
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Light-headed

Should I Give Up Caffeine?

Unfortunately, we can’t make that decision for you. However, I have been caffeine-free for four years now and my anxiety has improved tremendously. I’m able to stop my anxiety attacks 90% of the time.

Although I’m not a doctor, I do believe that not having the stimulant caffeine in my body has allowed me to better control my anxiety attacks. When I used to drink sodas and tea, my heart would start racing and I’d go zero to 60 in no time flat. All of a sudden I’d be in “fight or flight” mode, absolutely terrified.

Today, my anxiety creeps up slowly so I’m able to notice my triggers and soothe it before panic sets in.

Caffeine Substitutions

There is good news if you have decided to give up caffeine. Today, you can find most of your favorite drinks have a caffeine-free option. Even one of my favorite, most-caffeinated drinks (Sun Drop) has a caffeine-free version. Coke, Sun Drop, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper all offer caffeine-free options. There’s plenty more out there you just have to look around.

If you’re worried about the energy, there are natural ways to energize yourself such as:

  • Exercise
  • Vitamin B12
  • Sunshine
  • Breakfast

Tell us in the comments if you are thinking about going caffeine-free, too!


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