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Caffeine, Anxiety & Xanax

by
author image Shelly Guillory
Shelly Guillory has been a registered nurse for over seven years, specializing in the areas of oncology, infectious disease and psychiatric nursing. Guillory has been writing since 2005 and is currently pursing degrees in journalism and photography at the University of Utah.
Caffeine, Anxiety & Xanax
A woman looking anxious. Photo Credit Image Source White/Image Source/Getty Images

According to John Hopkins Medicine, 80 to 90 percent of adults in North America consume caffeine on a regular basis, but drinking caffeine can cause symptoms of anxiety and worry, especially if you have an anxiety condition. If you have an anxiety condition, you might need a prescription medication, such as Xanax; however, making certain lifestyle changes, including cutting back on caffeine use, might decrease your need for medication.

Anxiety

Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder are anxiety disorders and can manifest as many symptoms. Anxiety disorders range from mild to severe and you might feel on edge and worry about your health, financial status, school or work. Panic attacks, which can last from a couple of minutes to 30 minutes, can make your heart beat fast and make you hyperventilate, feel nauseated and leave you short of breath. You might feel very afraid during the attack, but it is important to remember that you are not in danger and the attack will eventually end.

Caffeine and Anxiety

Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant and is found in coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, tea and some medications and diet pills. MayoClinic.com states that if you drink 200 mg to 300 mg of caffeine a day, about two to four cups of coffee, it is not harmful to your health; however, if you consume more than 500 mg a day, you might notice side effects such as anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, nervousness, restlessness and irregular heartbeat. People who consume caffeine daily are usually less sensitive than people who do not use caffeine daily, and the way caffeine affects you also depends on your size, age, stress and health conditions. If you have anxiety, you might be more sensitive to caffeine and might notice these side effects and increased anxiety symptoms with even a small or moderate amount of caffeine.

Xanax

If you have an anxiety disorder, your doctor might prescribe a medication called Xanax, which is a benzodiazepine that slows down the central nervous system and is available only by prescription. While caffeine is a central nervous stimulant, benzodiazepines depress the central nervous system and work quickly to reduce symptoms of anxiety; however, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Xanax must be used carefully because it can be habit forming.

Side Effects

Before taking Xanax, talk to your doctor to make sure that other medications you are taking do not interact with it. Side effects of Xanax include drowsiness, fatigue, clumsiness, forgetfulness, lightheadedness and slurred speech. If you use Xanax daily to control your symptoms of anxiety, you might need to slowly wean off of it if you decide to quit taking it to prevent withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe and life-threatening. Symptoms of withdrawal include seizures, anxiety, nausea, flu symptoms, headache, ringing in the ears, dizziness and distorted vision.

Considerations

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends reducing caffeine intake to minimize symptoms of anxiety. Reducing your caffeine intake might leave you with fewer anxiety symptoms, which can lead to less use of Xanax. Reducing your caffeine intake, along with other lifestyle changes and anxiety treatments, also might help you feel calmer, sleep better and feel more relaxed. Consult your doctor before you begin any medication.

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