The Betterment Project
Caffeine And Anxiety: What's The Relationship?

Caffeine And Anxiety: What's The Relationship?

It’s not a popular thing to say, but caffeine is a drug. In fact, it is one of the most popular drugs globally, and it’s used by people all over the planet. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that 85 percent of the population consumes at least one caffeinated beverage every day. 

Thankfully, caffeine consumption is considered relatively safe for most healthy adults to consume with such widespread usage, even regularly. However, caffeine consumption isn’t a wise choice for some people, and for everyone, there is a limit to how much caffeine they should have in a day.

When it comes to anxiety, everyone experiences it from time to time. However, for some people, the frequency or intensity of the anxious feelings they have can negatively impact their daily lives. 

Some have noted a correlation between caffeine consumption and anxiety. But, is there a relationship? Let’s explore the common threads that too much caffeine and anxiety share and what you can do to manage both.


What Do Caffeine and Anxiety Have In Common? 

Caffeine is part of everyday life for most people because of the energy boost and alertness it provides. That first cup of coffee or tea in the morning also helps sharpen our focus and shake the foggy feeling that occurs when we first wake up. When the tired feelings persist or return, many people consume more caffeine throughout the day to maintain their energy levels and keep their minds focused. 

It is recommended that adults consume less than 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine in a day. When you consider that an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains roughly 95 milligrams of caffeine, you can imagine how easy it is for some people to exceed the recommended limit for caffeine in a day. 

Anxiety is a normal and natural part of the human experience. However, in excess and without an obvious cause, having anxious feelings can be an alarming and overwhelming occurrence. The very nature of anxiety’s effects on the body makes it helpful in the short term and more detrimental when experienced frequently or for long periods.

Consuming an excessive amount of caffeine can have a similar effect on the body as anxiety. Both, in moderation, can help your mind focus and give you energy, but too much caffeine and anxiety can have even more in common. Here are some of the ways that both can affect you:

 

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Digestive struggles
  • Fatigue
  • Mood issues

Determining whether you’re consuming too much caffeine or experiencing anxiety starts first with examining your caffeine consumption. It’s important to read the labels of the caffeinated beverages you consume and keep track of how much you’re consuming in a day.


What Does Too Much Caffeine Do? 

If you’re consuming five cups of coffee each day, you may want to cut back to make sure you’re not exceeding the recommended limit of caffeine. Most caffeinated sodas contain roughly about two-thirds the amount of caffeine as you get in a cup of coffee. However, some energy drinks contain 300 mg of caffeine in a single can. 

Just like calories and water intake, your caffeine consumption can really add up during the day. Monitoring your diet for caffeine totals can help you stay within a healthy limit and potentially avoid the negative effects of too much caffeine. 

It’s important to be able to recognize the signs that you’re consuming too much caffeine. Here are some signs to look for that might suggest it’s time to lower your consumption:

 

  • Dizziness
  • Increased thirst
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Increased blood pressure

Consuming too much caffeine in a short period can be more hazardous, according to the FDA. Caffeine over 1200 mg can have toxic effects. Here are some effects that are more serious to watch for:


  • Convulsions
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion
  • Pain in the chest 
  • Irregular or very fast heartbeat
  • Uncontrollable movements in muscles
  • Nausea

Many of the signs of too much caffeine can be similar to the effects of feeling excessively anxious. Because caffeine can have a similar impact on the body, for people who struggle with anxious feelings, some people find that their tolerance is lower than the recommended limits for caffeine. 


Is Caffeine Causing Your Anxiety? 

Like anxious feelings, too much caffeine can cause you to feel nervous or “jittery.” With caffeine being a stimulant, it can have some side effects if you have anxiety. When you’re anxious, your heartbeat increases, and you can find it difficult to fall asleep. So, distinguishing between too much caffeine and anxious feelings can be challenging at times. However, caffeine doesn’t cause anxiety.

Effects of caffeine can also affect you if you have panic attacks, panic disorder, insomnia, depression, and general anxiety disorder (gad). 

If you experience anxious feelings, you shouldn’t judge your morning cup of coffee too harshly. Caffeine isn’t to blame, but it could make your symptoms worse. Many people find that caffeine isn’t worth the exacerbation of their anxious feelings.


If you feel like caffeine might worsen your feelings, it may be time to dial back your consumption. If you have been a regular caffeine consumer, you may experience a few issues as you scale back, but there are different ways to help you get the energy you need and reduce your anxious feelings at the same time.


What Can You Do Differently? 

When caffeine has been a part of your day for a long time, you may find it challenging to find different ways to increase your energy and reduce the feelings of anxiousness you’re experiencing. Here are a few methods to help with both.


1 - Take Care of Your Sleep 

Caffeine and anxiety can affect your quality of sleep and the amount of sleep you get. Anxiety and caffeine can both make you feel tired. Taking care to get enough sleep and improve your sleep quality can help give you more energy and help improve your anxious feelings. 

To get a good night’s sleep, it’s important that you set the stage for success. Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to good sleep. Your sleep space should be:

 

  • Cool
  • Dark
  • Quiet
  • Comfortable

If you find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, you may want to try a natural supplement like Complete Calm Sleep Gummies to help settle you and your mind so you can fall asleep and stay asleep for a better night’s rest. 


2 - Monitor Yourself

No one knows you better than you know yourself. If you’re concerned that your caffeine consumption could be contributing to feeling more anxious, monitor your caffeine intake. Keep a journal of how much caffeine you consume and how you feel in the hours after.

Caffeine has a half-life of about five hours, so you’ll want to pay attention to your body and how you feel afterward for noticeable changes. 

It’s also important to remember that caffeine might not be fully eliminated from your system up to 9.5 hours after ingestion. If you’re enjoying more caffeinated beverages throughout the day, it can continue to push back the time it takes for caffeine to leave your body.

If you hope to lower your caffeine intake slowly, start with the caffeine you consume the latest day and work backward from there. This will hopefully minimize how much it is affecting your sleep. You should avoid cutting out caffeine altogether when you start decreasing your intake to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms. 


3 - Address Your Anxiety 

Since caffeine doesn’t actually cause anxiety, you should address your anxiety as its own entity even if you feel that it is making your feelings worse. There are lots of ways to help soothe your anxious feelings along with lowering your caffeine consumption. Here are a few to implement to help you manage your anxious feelings.


  • Journaling
  • Meditation
  • Calming supplements
  • Regular exercise
  • Yoga
  • Time management

Introducing all of these techniques at once can be overwhelming and cause you to have the same feelings you’re trying to remedy. Starting slowly with one technique at a time may help make it easier to incorporate each over time. 


Complete Calm De-Stress Gummies are a simple, tasty, treat-like supplement that can help you feel calmer and more relaxed almost immediately. This supplement is taken once per day, and the effects are most notable when taken regularly.  They’re a great first step to try when you want to start taking steps to soothe your anxious feelings.


Summary

Too much caffeine can often mimic the signs and feelings of excessive anxiousness. 

While caffeine doesn’t cause anxiety, it can contribute to making it feel worse. Learning to monitor and control your caffeine consumption and taking steps to manage your anxious feelings can help the codependent relationship between caffeine and anxiety have less of an impact on your daily life.

If you’re concerned about your caffeine intake or anxiety, you should discuss it with your physician. However, there are steps you can take to manage both. Be sure you’re getting enough sleep. 

Consider supplements to help you feel calmer during the day and to help you sleep. Implement other strategies such as meditation, regular exercise, time management skills, and yoga to manage your anxious feelings.

 

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Sources:

Beverage caffeine intakes in the US | sciencedirect.com 

The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review | ncbi.nlm.nih.gov 

Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much? | fda.gov 

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This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.