Anxiety Disorders Are Linked To Alcohol And Drugs
There is a strong link between alcohol and anxiety. Research shows that people with anxiety disorders are two to three times more likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol at some point in their lives than the general population. But that’s not all: Alcohol and drugs can often cause panic attacks, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America .
People with social anxiety, in particular, may turn to alcohol in order to lessen their symptoms, but alcohol can actually make anxiety worse. About 20 percent of people with social anxiety disorder also have an alcohol or substance abuse disorder, notes the ADAA. No matter which problem comes first, the combination of drugs, alcohol, and anxiety can become a vicious cycle.
How To Tell If Coffee Tea Or Other Forms Of Caffeine Are Causing Anxious Feelings And/or Fueling Your Anxiety
No drug is used more widely in the world than caffeine. The omnipresence of caffeine, however, sometimes makes people forget that it is a powerful stimulant. In addition to keeping you alert and energized, caffeine has many suggested health benefits, but consuming too much of has its costs. Too much caffeine can lead to increased anxiety or complicate an existing anxiety disorder by increasing symptoms.1
Anxiety is our bodys response to situations that we perceive as being worrisome or threatening, and it promotes our bodys fight or flight response. Caffeine also triggers this response, making you overreact to situations that arent actually dangerous or troublesome. Too much caffeine can also make you irritable and agitated in situations that normally wouldnt affect you. And if you already have increased anxiety or suffer from panic attacks, caffeine can cause these symptoms to become worse.
The effects of caffeine can also include 2
- changes in mood
The Food and Drug Administration considers a daily intake of 400 mg of caffeine or less to be a safe amount for most adults .3 This amount is roughly 3 to 4 cups of the coffee you would brew at home. Drinking more than this amount can cause coffee intoxication, and those who drink caffeine excessively and regularly and struggle to cutback may have a caffeine use disorder.
When The Effects Of Caffeine And Coffee Are Not So Hot
There are quite a few of us, however, that are dealing with excess amounts of stress, leading to anxiety disorder. The effects of anxiety disorders can and do leave most struggling with anxiety tired and unmotivated.
For these people, that first cup of coffee was just a pregame. Cue the third, fourth, and fifth cups, and your body is on caffeine overload.
What is the appropriate dose of caffeine, then?
The Food and Drug Administration recommends healthy adults not exceed 400 mg of caffeine a day .
The bigger problem here is that caffeine itself isnt really the problem. Coffee is a natural diuretic and high in acid. Someone drinking copious amounts of coffee daily will become dehydrated pretty quickly. Plus, the acid will deplete the natural minerals and nutrients that we need in our bodies. Now, we have a recipe for disaster.
Don’t Miss: How Can I Fall Asleep With Anxiety
Is Coffee Anxiety Real And Other Anxiety Questions Answered
Many people drink a cup of coffee because they need a little boost in the morning, and others count on it to keep them awake at all hours of the day or night. This is not something to worry about, but what if coffee ends up making you feel anxious, more often than not? Is there a chance that coffee causes anxiety, and if so, what can you do about it? Keep reading for answers to these questions, as well as a look at how you can limit your anxiety.
How Does Coffee Wake You Up?
Coffee contains caffeine, which is a type of stimulant. This can keep you alert and allow you to focus on things after you drink it. However, it can cause you other effects, which can be minor or significant, depending on how much you drink a day, as well as your tolerance for caffeine. These effects include things like changes in mood, upset stomach, feeling shaky, and elevated heart rate.
These are symptoms that are very similar to how people feel when they have anxiety. People with anxiety may not be able to tell the difference between the effects of having too much coffee and experiencing anxiety.
I Knew I Would Get A Migraine
Several hours into the drive on my first day without coffee, I felt an all-too-familiar dull pulsing behind my right eye.
As my head pounded and my stomach began to turn, I popped an Excedrin Migraine . But the migraine just wouldnt go away. I took some ibuprofen before finally admitting it was time to take one of my prescription migraine medications.
The following day, I got a mild migraine, though I was able to nip it in the bud with medication before it grew too unbearable. On my third day without coffee, I had a dull tension headache.
It wasnt until my fourth day without coffee that I didnt get a headache.
Read Also: How Do You Get Tested For Anxiety
How To Cut Back On Caffeine
Do it gradually.
Experts recommend reducing your intake slowly over the course of two to three weeks. If you go cold turkey, youre more likely to deal with unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like headaches, fatigue and mood disturbances.
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable but usually go away within the first week of stopping, Juliano noted.
It may also be useful to track your anxiety levels in a journal throughout the weaning process, Sweeney said.
Change up your coffee order.
Some may be surprised to learn that one shot of espresso actually contains less caffeine than one cup of drip coffee.
A 1.5-ounce shot of espresso only contains about 75 to 90 mg of caffeine compared to a 12-ounce drip coffee that may contain 200 to 300 mg of caffeine, Juliano said.
If you like tea, youll be glad to know that even caffeinated varieties such as green tea or black tea tend to have less caffeine per serving than brewed coffee. In an 8-ounce cup, green tea has about 25 mg of caffeine and black tea has about 50 mg, according to the Mayo Clinic. But again, caffeine content can vary based on the brewing time, temperature and other factors.
Supposing, however, you consumed the same amount of caffeine from coffee as you did from black tea, would the beverages have different effects on your anxiety levels? According to Juliano, there isnt sufficient data to say.
Switch to decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea.
Signs Of A Secretly Anxious Introvert
There can be other negative health effects: Caffeine at long-term high doses can encourage mineral loss like magnesium, which is an important co-factor for brain neurotransmitters. Coffee may also contribute to fluctuations in blood sugar, which can raise anxiety levels. I have learned with my patients, if he or she is too depleted, and takes in too much coffee, they will burn out even more.
As you probably already know, caffeine-sensitive individuals may experience more insomnia. As we learned earlier, poor sleep will promote both anxiety and depression in predisposed individuals. If a patient is not sleeping, I will recommend they stop coffee until the sleeping issue is solved.
How Much Coffee Is Okay, Then?
As far as dosing coffee, I find for most people who do well with coffee, two cups a day, sipped slowly works well. More tends to make people who tend to anxiety become anxious and experience heart palpitations.
Oh, one more note it is probably healthiest to skip all sugar. And if you are sensitive to dairy, switch to a natural non-dairy creamer or better milk . Some of my patients do find adding a little fat like butter or dairy/non-dairy creamer also slows the hit of the caffeine, creating a more balanced boost to mood.
Again, whether coffee is best for you really depends on your particular situation. As I discuss in my book Put Anxiety Behind You, it is most important to lay down a healthy foundation to truly work through anxiety. Main ways to do this are:
Read Also: Do You Have To Take Medication For Anxiety
Can Coffee Help Anxiety
” … Coffee sets the blood in motion and stimulates the muscles it accelerates the digestive processes, chases away sleep, and gives us the capacity to engage a little longer in the exercise of our intellects.” – Honoré de Balzac
As the most well-used psychoactive drug of all time, coffee is an interesting compound, with generally positive reviews regarding health and mood. Regarding overall health, studies show some wonderful health effects for coffee.
Coffee can decrease a pre-diabetics risk for diabetes, lower incidence of bile tract and liver cancer, and even help prevent heart attacks after a meal. In fact, a 2013 review of the larger epidemiologic studies show regular coffee consumption to reduce mortality, both for all-cause and cardiovascular deaths. Brand new research by Guercio suggests it can help prevent the recurrence of colon cancer. In addition, coffee intake is associated with lower rates of heart failure, stroke, and diabetes.
Coffee to Help Anxiety?
Conventional wisdom suggests that caffeine-containing drinks are considered a no-no when it comes to anxiety. Theres good reason for this and many people with anxiety should avoid coffee. But, some of you reading this may benefit from coffee. Lets review the information about coffee in terms of anxiety and mood to see what makes the most sense.
Children Pregnant Women Athletes And Caffeine
Some people who need to take special care with caffeine include:
- children currently there are no guidelines for children’s intake of caffeine. Caffeine intake should be investigated if children are showing symptoms of irritability, inability to sleep, interrupted sleep or stomach upsets. Remember that caffeine is present in many soft drinks and chocolate, not just coffee and tea. The consumption of energy drinks should also be closely monitored
- pregnant women if you are pregnant, limit your caffeine intake to 200mg per day or less, or avoid it altogether. Having high amounts of caffeine may increase your risk of miscarriage, experiencing a difficult birth and having a baby with a low birth weight
- athletes caffeine is not classified as a prohibited substance under the World Anti-Doping Code 2015 Prohibited List. The Australian Institute of Sport lists it as a Group A substance, which means its ‘supported for use in specific situations in sport’ and ‘provided or permitted for use by some athletes according to best practice protocols’.
However, check the anti-doping rules of your particular sporting code to make sure caffeine is not a restricted drug for the sport you play.
Read Also: What To Do If You Think You Have Anxiety
How To Wean Yourself Off Coffee
Coffee is delicious, and research also shows that drinking coffee can both reduce depression and result in a feel-good dopamine response. But if it’s causing your anxiety symptoms to tick up, it might be worth cutting back. Prioritize other things that will help you to feel good and healthy, like sleep, diet and movement, then layer in supplements and take caffeine dosage down to a cup of tea in the morning only, Chantal Bacon suggests.
She recommends supplemental magnesium in the evening hours and switching to yerba mate as a coffee substitute in the morning, which has a similarly roasted flavor but less caffeine per cup. Start reducing your intake on weekends only, then drop down to a cup every other day, and so on.
Do I still drink coffee? Definitely, but I’m super mindful of how much I’m drinking and try to limit myself to a cup just a couple times per week. I’ll often opt for decaf if I’m really craving it. Otherwise, I’ve mostly turned to tea.
Medications Plus Caffeine Can Increase Anxiety
Caffeine is so much a part of our culture that its easy to forget that its a psychoactive drug and, consequently, doesnt always mix well with other drugs.
Drugs.com currently lists more than 50 medications that should not be taken with caffeine.
Sometimes caffeine enhances the effects of some drugs its often added to over-the-counter painkillers to make them work better.
But this same property also increases the number of side effects as is the case with asthma medications, antidepressants, and some antibiotics.
Anti-anxiety medications, sleeping pills, and lithium for bipolar disorder fall into this category.
Pharmacist Suzy Cohen, RPh, reveals some alarming interactions between caffeine and prescription drugs in her book Drug Muggers: Which Medications Are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients and Natural Ways to Restore Them.
She reports that caffeine can cause tremors, panic attacks, and insomnia when taken with antidepressants that are SSRIs .
Caffeine should be avoided when taking breathing medications that contain the stimulant xanthine.
When taken together, they can cause anxiety as well as dangerous heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and arrhythmia.
When caffeine is used with ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin, it increases nervousness, irritability, insomnia, and heart rhythm abnormalities.
Also Check: How To Get Help With Stress And Anxiety
Don’t Miss: How To Treat Someone With Anxiety
The Afternoon Energy Slump Is Real
Although it wasnt easy, I managed to get through most mornings without coffee.
The brain fog eased up each day, and although the start to my morning was slower, I eventually got work done.
The real struggle happened around 3 or 4 p.m., when I felt myself beginning to wane.
Ive always enjoyed several cups of matcha green tea at night, as the caffeine content is minimal, and I find it settles my stomach.
I came to long for this small burst of caffeine each night, and began brewing matcha earlier and earlier in the day.
One night during my challenge, I had plans to see Journey at Wrigley Field, a long-awaited family outing. Right before we left, I joked with everyone that I needed a nap.
My twin brother also a major caffeine addict tossed me a 5-hour Energy Shot. Id never tried one. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
I drank the shot and felt relief wash over me as my body filled with energy just 20 minutes later.
Maybe Im not meant to live a life without caffeine, I thought.
How To Prevent And Overcome Caffeine
To prevent unwanted caffeine side effects that mimic anxiety symptoms, consume caffeine in moderation and be aware of how many caffeinated products you may ingest daily.
Most people dont realize that caffeine is present in many other foods and drinks besides coffee and hence may be underestimating their total caffeine intake, Dr. Jaiswal says. In addition to coffee, caffeine can also be found in energy drinks, soft drinks, green tea, and chocolate.
If youve overindulged with any caffeinated products and want to minimize the unpleasant side effects, stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water and exercise to help your body metabolize the caffeine faster.
People who are sensitive to caffeine may try drinking alternatives such as decaffeinated coffee, decaf espresso, herbal tea, golden milk, or lemon water.
In all, drinking coffee in moderation is safe for most people. While coffee does not cause anxiety, consuming excessive amounts of caffeine can make anxiety symptoms worse, especially for those with baseline anxiety disorders.
Don’t Miss: Is Medical Marijuana Good For Anxiety