Does caffeine make anxiety worse?

Dr. Laura Tanzini

Let’s take a look at caffeine and how and why it could have effects on your body and the relationship with anxiety.

Stimulants are drugs that basically increase and speed the bodies systems.  Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant.  The sympathetic nervous system triggers a response that is referred to as the fight or flight response.  So, when we are anxious or have a panic attack we are in that fight or flight response.  It’s exactly like being faced with a situation that is potentially dangerous, or scary and we need to decide to either stay and or to turn and run away.  Both of these options require our body to work faster and better.  This is where epinephrine comes in.

Epinephrineis a chemical released from the sympathetic nervous system in response to stress and it is also referred to as a stress hormone.  So, caffeine stimulates the body similar to epinephrine

Caffeine affects the body much like stress by increasing 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 and for those with anxiety or panic disorder these increased levels of stress hormones will exacerbate anxiety.  Caffeine can create symptoms of anxiety in a healthy person that are indistinguishable from those experienced by anxiety disorder sufferers. In addition, the most common side effects of both anxiety and caffeine consumption is insomnia.

It is very easy to consume caffeine even when you are trying to avoid caffeine altogether.  Caffeine is in coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola soda, but it’s hidden in prescription drugs, over-the-counter painkillers, non-cola drinks, energy drinks, vitamin waters, brain tonics, and even in vitamins and herbal supplements.

The amount of caffeine in energy drinks can be deceiving as some of the serving sizes of these drinks is very small.  For example, a 5-Hour Energy Shot contains 100 mg of caffeine per ounce.  Caffeine’s is a powerful drug and its effects are consistently underestimated.  Caffeine causes nutrients to be excreted from your body.  For example, caffeine and carbonation cause bone mineral leaching.

Caffeine induces panic attacks that by giving participants with social anxiety disorder 480 mg of caffeine, 61% of them experienced caffeine-induced panic attacks.  So, if you suffer from anxiety issues and consume caffeine, the caffeine may be making the anxiety worse.  However, withdrawal symptoms of anxiety are migraine headaches.  If you want to eliminate caffeine consumption do it gradually.  

If you’re experiencing overwhelming anxiety, treatment may be best. Take a step towards relieving your anxiety with Kinder in the Keys’ anxiety treatment. Contact us today.


Author Bio

Dr. Laura Tanzini, DrPh, MA, MFT

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a highly educated and accomplished professional with a background in biology and psychology. She received a BS in Biology from UC Riverside, an MA in psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute, and a Doctorate in Public Health with a specialty in Lifestyle Medicine from Loma Linda University.

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a Board Certified Professional Counselor, Integrative Medicine Clinician, and PTSD Clinician. She has worked in multiple medical hospitals, mental health institutions, and inpatient eating disorder clinics. Also, Dr. Tanzini has written scholarly papers and spoken on various topics related to nutrition, stress, menopause, obesity, depression, anxiety, and human development.