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Does Coffee Cause Anxiety?

by
author image Charlie Osborne
A speech-language pathologist, Charlie Osborne has published articles related to his field. He was an associate editor and then editor for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Division 4 Perspectives in Fluency and Fluency Disorders. Osborne has a Master of Arts degree in communicative disorders from the University of Central Florida.
Does Coffee Cause Anxiety?
Coffee's caffeine "jolt" can often result in symptoms of anxiety. Photo Credit DimaSobko/iStock/Getty Images

A staple beverage for millions of people worldwide, coffee is the definitive morning eye-opener and afternoon or late-night pick-me-up. However, the alertness and burst of energy you feel from coffee may result in anxiety, manifesting in a variety of ways. The connection between coffee-induced anxiety is a crucial issue to examine, whether you're an occasional coffee drinker or a true "javaholic."

Caffeine

As you enjoy the robust flavor and warmth from sips of coffee, your body is also experiencing the effects of caffeine, a stimulant that is responsible for both the energy-boosting and anxiety-inducing properties of coffee. According to MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, a caffeine intake of 250 milligrams -- or three 8-ounce cups of coffee -- per day is generally not enough to produce negative effects in most people. It is when you exceed this amount that caffeine intake may become an anxiety-inducing problem.

Varying Caffeine Content

Coffee's caffeine content -- and hence its potential to bring about anxiety -- varies greatly depending on the type of coffee you consume. According to the University of Florida, regular brewed and blended coffee contains an average of 221 milligrams of caffeine per 24 ounce, or roughly 74 milligrams per 8-ounce cup. However, certain blends such as French roast contain about 270 milligrams per 24-ounce serving, and espresso can pack a whopping caffeine punch of up to 80 milligrams per single ounce.

Effects

A heavy daily caffeine intake is anywhere from 600 mg and up, or ten 8-ounce cups of coffee according to MedlinePlus.com. Large amounts of caffeine are more likely to produce anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety induced by the caffeine in coffee include nervousness, irritability, insomnia, jittery feelings and irregular or fast heartbeat. These symptoms often arise after the initial effects, or alertness-boosting "jolt," of coffee wear off and can last from four to six hours after the desired effects of drinking coffee.

Dependence

Yet another facet of coffee's ability to bring about anxiety is the inevitable dependence upon caffeine that arises from regular consumption of the beverage. Once you're hooked on the caffeine contained within coffee, you are likely to experience anxiety symptoms when you don't drink coffee as well. As your brain becomes used to the stimulant, you may feel anxious as well as foggy and overtired when you don't get your morning or afternoon caffeine fix.

Preventing Anxiety from Coffee

Does Coffee Cause Anxiety?
Switching to green tea or herbal tea can help eliminate caffeine-induced anxiety. Photo Credit Green tea image by huaxiadragon from Fotolia.com

You don't have to stop drinking coffee entirely to prevent anxiety that arises from over-consumption of caffeine. If drinking coffee has become a routine throughout your day, try drinking one or two cups of regular coffee and switching over to decaffeinated coffee the rest of the time. Keep in mind that decaffeinated coffee still contains trace amounts of caffeine -- but these amounts are far lower than what you will get in regular coffee. Also, if you're looking for another hot drink to substitute for coffee, green tea is an option because it contains substantially less caffeine and also is rich in healthy antioxidants. Herbal teas such as chamomile, peppermint and ginseng are also potential choices to replace coffee and eliminate caffeine-induced anxiety.

When to See Your Doctor

If you are a coffee drinker and are experiencing severe symptoms of anxiety such as dizziness and panic attacks, see your doctor as soon as possible. Although caffeine can bring about anxiety, it can also mask the presence of an underlying anxiety disorder.

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