Does coffee actually cause anxiety?
Caffeine is a psychoactive drug that, according to research, can cause or enhance anxiety and other stress-related signs and symptoms in several ways. While the aroma, the taste, the routine, the warmth of the cup in your hands, and the feeling you get when you take your first sip in the morning may be cause for celebration, for some too much of a good thing can cause problems.
Even those with a high tolerance for caffeine (AKA everyone who drinks Death Wish) can experience these things if they're not careful about their consumption. Here are a few of many ways that caffeine is linked to anxiety according to Be Brain Fit, and what you can do to combat it.
- Caffeine increases stress hormones.
Most people with anxiety would agree that they have a lot of weight on their shoulders. Caffeine adds to the burden. Similar to stress, caffeine increases heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of stress hormones. Caffeine consumption can more than double your blood levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine.
- Caffeine affects neurotransmitter balance.
Caffeine often gives us a desirable feeling—increased motivation, productivity, and brain power. This is a result of increasing brain chemicals dopamine and acetylcholine. However, caffeine hinders the calming neurotransmitter GABA, which puts the brain activity on hold when needed. GABA is married to happiness and relaxation, so it’s no surprise that having a low GABA level can lead to anxiety and panic attacks.
- Caffeine causes insomnia.
If your mind is stuck in a never-ending marathon at night time, caffeine can contribute to this problem. Caffeine-induced sleep disorder is actually a recognized psychiatric disorder. Getting good sleep is essential to our brains since this is when metabolic debris and toxins are washed away and repaired into new brain cells. It’s important to keep in mind that any caffeine you consume, even 6 hours prior to bedtime can significantly disrupt your sleep.
- Caffeine is linked to psychiatric disorders.
Enough caffeine can create symptoms of anxiety in a healthy person that are indistinguishable from those experienced by anxiety disorder sufferers. Caffeine has also been linked to mental disorders including anxiety, panic and depression, as well as sleep and eating disorders. Fact: In 1987, it was recommended that decaffeinated beverages should be provided in psychiatric wards. Taking schizophrenic patients off caffeine has actually been proven to help their anxiety, irritability, and hostility.
- Caffeine can increase anxiety when taken with many medications.
Caffeine is often consumed out of habit, making it an immense part of our daily life. That being said, it sometimes slips our mind that it’s a psychoactive drug and therefore, doesn’t mix well with other drugs. Check out drugs.com for a list of over 80 medications that should not be taken alongside caffeine. It is often added to over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers to make them more effective, however, consequently increases the number of side effects in asthma medications, antidepressants, and some antibiotics.
It’s no secret that coffee is a staple in many lives. In this case, looks, scents, and tastes can all be considered deceiving if you aren’t listening to your body and giving it the essential nutrients it needs. If you’re someone who deals with anxiety, you may want to try a more natural form of caffeine, such as green tea (that's the tea). I would recommend sticking to one coffee a day, but if you give a human a coffee, chances are, they’re going to want another.