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What is the Connection Between Caffeine and Anxiety?

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  • Written By: Rhonda Rivera
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Drinking caffeinated coffee, soda pop, or tea stimulates the nervous system, and the body produces and releases adrenaline in response. In turn, this can make the user feel anxious or jittery and develop a rapid heartbeat until the caffeine wears off. There are many other side effects of caffeine, but anxiety is a particularly common one. The link between caffeine and anxiety is also one of the more explored aspects of the drug.

As a central nervous stimulant, caffeine is a psychoactive drug, meaning it is able to affect the user’s brain. In many countries, most drugs capable of doing this are either illegal all-together or can only be legally used when prescribed by a doctor. Caffeine is one of the few substances that cross the user’s blood-brain barrier but remain legal in most jurisdictions. Due to this capability, effects like anxiety and alertness should be expected after consuming it.

Too much caffeine can induce an anxiety disorder. In fact, the disorder may be severe enough to warrant medical attention. This type of anxiety can be general anxiety, which makes the person worry needlessly, or panic attacks that hinder the person’s everyday life. Caffeine anxiety can also present itself in other ways, however. For example, the caffeine user might develop obsessive-compulsive tendencies or symptoms of schizophrenia.

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While caffeine and anxiety are scientifically linked, caffeine is believed to cause severe anxiety infrequently. It is possible that this effect of caffeine happens more often than many doctors believe, however. This is because anxiety caused by caffeine is reportedly an often misdiagnosed health problem. When a misdiagnosis happens, the patient may be given prescriptions drugs to treat the anxiety when simply eliminating or severely reducing their caffeine intake would do.

Caffeine and anxiety are still being actively researched by scientists. It is generally believed that only especially large doses produce very severe anxiety attacks, though some people may experience mild anxiety just by drinking their morning coffee. Caffeine consumption is not always a bad thing, however. For example, studies show that low doses of caffeine in certain drinks can help prevent heart disease.

In conclusion, caffeine and anxiety are often directly related to one another. If experiencing anxiety, it is important for the user to assess his or her daily consumption of foods and drinks that contain the stimulant. The problem may be solved by simply eliminating or reducing caffeine intake. Like with many stimulants, the user can experience mild withdrawal symptoms when drastically altering the dosage, such as a headache and irritability, for up to one week.

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Discuss this Article

candyquilt
Post 3

It might just be that caffeine symptoms mimic signs of anxiety. I think they're very similar. Caffeine causes increased heart rate and heart palpitations. It can also cause jitters. Similar things happen during an anxiety attack.

SteamLouis
Post 2

I highly doubt that a generally healthy person can develop an anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or schizophrenia. I don't think that caffeine will cause any psychological issues in a healthy person.

I'm not saying that caffeine never causes anxiety. I think it can cause anxiety or panic, but only in someone who already has these issues. So someone with an already existing anxiety disorder might experience an anxiety attack. Too much caffeine can set it off but that doesn't make caffeine the culprit. It's just aggravating an already existing condition.

burcinc
Post 1

If I have more than two cups of coffee, I develop jitters, heart palpitations and anxiety. I love coffee but I really have to limit my intake. It takes me a while to recover when I develop caffeine induced anxiety symptoms. Even though I know that caffeine is the culprit, it feels like something bad is about to happen and I panic.

Most of the time, I only have one cup of coffee per day. If I want something hot later, I drink caffeine-free teas like chamomile or mint.

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