The Caffeine-Anxiety Connection

Be Happy – The Anxiety Secrets You Need to Know...

Step 1. Select Which Type of Anxiety You Suffer With

Stop — your drink is causing anxiety! Don’t take another sip of that coffee. Here’s why…

Caffeine, the stuff found in your coffee, tea and cola, is one of the most popular mood-enhancing drugs on the planet. That’s right, caffeine is technically classified as a drug, and rightly so… it can cause havoc with your anxiety and worry levels.

Caffeine may make you feel energetic and alert by increasing levels of brain chemical called norepinephrine. But as with most things in life, you don’t get something for nothing. Caffeine has a dark side…

“Caffeine is an energy loan shark. What it lends you in the morning it takes back with heavy interest in the afternoon.” ~ Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D.

And every time you drink caffeine your own natural abilities to produce those feel-good chemicals are reduced, so eventually you need even more coffee to get the same alert/energetic feelings. Before long you become dependent on coffee just to “feel OK.” But that’s not all…

1. Caffeine increases the levels of your stress hormone adrenaline. This can trigger feelings of anxiety and cause feelings of tension and stress. It’s not uncommon for such people to be prescribed anti-anxiety medication, when all along the symptoms were triggered by caffeine intake. And every time your body releases more adrenaline unnecessarily, you are putting more stress and strain on your nervous system, which ultimately makes you more prone to anxiety.

2. Caffeine blocks the effects of hormones serotonin and melatonin. When this happens sleep becomes more difficult, which also makes you more prone to anxiety.

3. Caffeine leeches vital vitamins and minerals out of your body. Which (guess what?!) makes you more prone to anxiety.

I think you get the message by now. The good news is when you reduce your caffeine levels you’ll find yourself with higher levels of calmness, more energy, and better sleep. And best of all, less anxiety and worry. But coming off caffeine can be tricky, there are some initial downsides…

You’ll lose that almost instant energetic caffeine buzz. You may find, only initially, you get more headaches. And whilst you’re on a caffeine comedown, you’ll probably feel cranky and irritable. Thankfully, all of these downsides are short-lived.

The best way to become caffeine-free without harsh withdrawal symptoms is by gradually reducing your intake week-by-week. Your first job is to get down to just one cup of coffee a day. So if you drink four cups a day, for the first week drink three a day, for the second week drink two cups, and for the third week drink just one cup.

If you are committed to eliminating caffeine from your life and minimizing anxiety, once you are down to one cup, begin the week by drinking just half a cup of coffee (that means putting in half the measure of coffee you usually use, not just half the amount of water!) For the next week you should be able to go coffee-free without harsh withdrawal symptoms.

Ideally if anxiety and worry are dominating your life it would be best to totally eliminate caffeine from your diet altogether — you will feel the most benefits that way. But if you are a coffee/caffeine lover then at LEAST cut back to 100 mg maximum a day. Here are typical caffeine content levels per drink:

Coffee 90-150 mg
Tea 30-70 mg
Red Bull 80 mg
Dr. Pepper 61 mg
Mountain Dew 55 mg
Surge 51 mg
Tab 47 mg
Coca-Cola 45 mg
Diet Coca-Cola 45 mg
Pepsi Cola 43 mg

It’s crazy, just the simple act of having these seemingly innocent drinks can cause very real anxiety problems. For some people one cup of coffee is enough to set them up for a day of worry and anxiety, without them even realizing.

It amazes and annoys me how and why doctors don’t know this sort of information and instead rely on the prescription pad. But that’s a rant for another day…

12 Responses to “The Caffeine-Anxiety Connection”

Kim said on April 18, 2008:

It annoys me too that doctors don’t suggest it. I tried everything for my anxiety, antidepressants, valerian etc etc. The problem was, COFFEE. And it didn’t take much – 2 cups a day and I was a MESS. In the end I felt like I couldn’t breathe. 2 days after quitting coffee, I felt better than I had in 10 years. Cheers. (P.S. I drink 1-2 cups of Tea now and I feel great)

j hancock said on September 6, 2008:

i agree with everything you said i had the same problems plus. i drank diet pop for 10 years and finally weened myself off and all my sleep meds,anti depress. meds, pain meds, i didnt need anymore, although i started drinking coffee 4 months ago and the probs have returned now i have to start all over again, its rediculus the drs dont either know this or dont care.

Egill said on April 18, 2009:


But what about soda?

why does soda affect anxiety?



Kaffish Korn said on April 30, 2009:

Coffee which makes the politician wise
And see despite his half-shut eyes…

Simon said on April 26, 2010:

I know this is an old post, but the information is very relevant.

I have suffered from undiagnosed severe anxiety for years. Heart palpitations, sweats, dizziness, heart skipping beats, tingly arms…you name it I had it.

Early on I thought I was dying for sure. Ran through heaps of doctor led tests to ensure my heart was indeed in good health. It of course was, but my symptoms were still very real.

4+ years of dealing with this and a friend suggested laying off all caffeine intake for 2 weeks just to try.

I wish I had taking this advice years ago. The transformation is amazing. My symptoms are all but completely gone and if I feel like testing myself out, I can easily fall back into these feelings by having a couple cups of coffee or a few cans of coke.

If you’re having these kind of symptoms:

1) Get check out for any physical issues immediately
2) Ignore the doctor who tries to push anti-anxiety pills on you
3) Look at your diet. You may have a simple hypersensitivity to foods/liquids and/or chemicals like caffeine.

Adjust your diet starting with known bad things like caffeine and see how it affects your symptoms before resulting to mood altering medication.

OJC said on June 18, 2010:

I have always had anxiety, however lately I have been having terrible panic attacks. They are getting unbearable. I ordered some natural anxiety pills. I want to try and beat my anxiety naturally rather than getting prescribed meds that can be addictive. I have been searching the web for all sorts of natural remedies. Like better foods to eat, and certain vitamins to take. I have been reading a lot about caffine and that it can have a huge part in anxiety. I drink atleast one 2 liter of coke a day or more. I depend on my caffine to function, I knew soda wasn’t good for me, but never knew it was connected to my anxiety. I have tried quit a few times, but I get horrible headaches, and I just love the taste of soda. I am going to give it another go, and I hope I can see some improvement. My anxiety is taking over my life! So I hope this will help..

usmc said on June 19, 2010:

um pretty much i’ve drank about a litre of soda almost everyday since i was about 8 or 10, Anxiety forced me out of the millitary, after i got out of bootcamp i started drinking mt dew again and then igot panick attacks and anxiety, and soda also started hurting my stomach and giving me stomache aches, and just today i found out that it could have been soda contributing to or even causes my anxiety, its going to be hard to quit but im quiting soda for good. i just wish i wasnt so addicted. soda is done ruinning my life. done.P.S. if ur in the military, i suggest u get off soda as well, especially if u get anxiety or overstressed. iwish i knew all this sooner.

Moshe said on June 22, 2010:

can i trust caffeine free coffee, and caffeine free cola?

Snap said on September 23, 2010:

Thanks so much for the information.

I have a very serious anxiety problem. There are certain things I know to affect my anxiety level. However, I have always ingested caffeine. I have ‘only’ drunk tea for a long time, thinking it had way less caffeine. Now, I see that is not really true: and in any case, I have anywhere from 3 to perhaps 5 cups per day.

I am cutting it back. I’ll report back. People really do make life way more complicated than it need be. I’m very optimistic this will make a difference, considering I know I am very sensitive to stimulants (e.g. pseudoephedrine in medicines sends me over the edge!).

Thank you.

Michelle said on November 22, 2010:

Hi All

I can have one cup of coffee and the hot rush will begin.

It is definitely a trigger for my anxiety.

dan said on February 1, 2011:

great site thank you. I have had anxiety all my life, i went to the doctor about it just recently and he recommended getting off caffeine completely instead of recommending drugs because most of them are highly addictive. i drink about 4 cups of tea a day, gonna try cutting down to at least 2 cups of tea a day this week and hopefully to 1 next week then Zero!
i remember years ago i stopped drinking tea for about two weeks and feeling very relaxed.

Andy said on February 1, 2011:

So glad for this thread, I never really made the connection between anxiety and coffee becauseI only have one cup a day. (Although I do make it pretty strong). Except that for a long while now I’ve felt this unexplained anxiety during the day, almost like a pressure in my chest. And usually around 4-5 pm it eases a lot (Happy Hour?). I can also remember a morning or two when I skipped my coffee and felt so..mellow. So today I made a cup of 50-50: regular/decaf blend. I felt much better! Much more mellow. Tomorrow I will try decaf only. And yes, I will keep the aspirin handy. I think this may solve the anxiety problem for me, based on what I’m experiencing. Hope this helps someone else. Andy

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