Caffeine And Anxiety
Not a good mix
In my not too distant past I tried to help someone who was panicking because of a stressful situation.Instinctively I told them to breathe deeply whilst I got them a cup of tea.
However, it didn’t seem to help much and knowing what I know now part of the problem may have been the tea I gave them to drink!
Today I’ll share with you what I’ve found out about the relationship between caffeine and anxiety.
The American Psychological Association gives the following definition of anxiety, which they adapted from the Encyclopedia of Psychology as:
“…An emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. ”American Psychological Association
They then go on to explain that sufferers:
“…May also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat. ”American Psychological Association
Anxiety is part of being human. It is a normal response to danger, whether perceived or real, and allows our bodies and minds to be prepared to flee or escape the cause of the danger.
Unfortunately there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that caffeine can trigger the same sort of response in some people.
The Link to Caffeine
Whilst there are many factors that may affect when and how anxiety is triggered, drinking caffeine and even trying to give up caffeine can increase the likelihood of experiencing anxiety.
Caffeine has been known to induce anxiety in people for so long that it even has its own disorder classification: Caffeine-induced anxiety disorder.
Also, take into account that many of the effects that caffeine has on your body are similar if not the same as consuming too much caffeine or caffeine withdrawal symptoms:
- Uncontrollable worry
- Difficulty focusing
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Increased heart rate
If you are prone to anxiety attacks then the best advice seems to be to remove caffeine from your diet.
If you feel that you need caffeine to help you be alert, stay awake or help you manage your anxiety, try these tips:
- Breath deeper, learn relaxation techniques and/or yoga and meditation.
- Exercise can help lift your mood and over the longer-term increase your energy, helping you to feel more positive.
- Tiredness can make you feel down and irritable (which doesn’t help if you’re trying to keep away from caffeine). Use a tiredness alarm such as V-CAF to let you know when you are most likely to be tired so that you can take action to wake yourself up.
- Use a support network and talk with your medical advisor to gain insights into how to manage your anxiety.
When consumed in moderation, caffeine for many is a beneficial stimulant, but for an ever-growing amount of people it can trigger anxiety attacks, and it may be best, in my opinion, to stop using it.
To manage your anxiety whilst withdrawing from caffeine consumption:
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Exercise to lift your mood
- Be aware of when you are tired using tools such as V-CAF so that you can act appropriately to avoid feeling down.
- Speak to your medical advisor
You can guess knowing what I know now, I won’t be offering tea to someone who needs to calm down!
If you suffer from anxiety, knowing that you could be making things harder for yourself by consuming caffeine can be liberating. Take action and stop drinking caffeine today.