Caffeine and Anxiety

Recently, I have been wondering if I can correlate what I do, where I go and what I eat with how my emotions are.

When I go to the seaside am I calmer?
If I drink more than 3 cups of coffee a day am I more anxious?
Do I feel better when I have a small square of good quality chocolate every day?

I really try and drink plenty of water each day. It is good for my skin and obviously really good for my transplanted kidney! Often I try and replace my cup of tea or coffee with herbal teas. Nettle tea is meant to be wonderful for kidneys so I try and drink that once a day. I also really love camomile or fennel tea. There is just something so comforting about them. But as good as I try and be, there are times when I look at the range of teas I have and not a single one tempts me. I just look at them and think urgh and then reach for my jar of coffee.


I think the issue is when I’m feeling low and a little off balance I can end up being a bit fussy and only wanting comfort foods. I’m sure there is no coincidence that a lot of comfort foods begin with the same letter – ‘C’. Chips, Crisps, Chocolate…
I don’t comfort eat to the extent that I have weight issues. But somehow I seem to achieve the opposite of comfort. I feel guilty, sluggish, tired and unhappy with myself after I reach for the less than healthy snacks.

Some people are morning people. Some people are night owls. I’m not really either. I seem to have the same low level of energy throughout the day. Having a coffee to wake me up doesn’t seem to do anything for me. I like to have a coffee after dinner to relax. On occasion where I have drank quite a lot of caffeine it seems to have the opposite effect on me. Instead of waking me up, it actually makes me sleepy.
In fact, I seem to have opposite reactions to a lot of things. Once I was given adrenaline as part of a check for my heart health. It made my blood pressure plummet and I went really dizzy. That is the opposite effect the nurse was expecting and a doctor had to be called and I was laid down on a bed with my knees up. Another time I was given antihistamine as a preventative measure as the next medication they were going to give me could cause unpleasant reactions. Very quickly my face went blotchy and I felt like my throat was starting to slightly swell…

But is there any evidence to link between anxiety and caffeine?

The effects of caffeine are highlighted below:


One study carried out looked at if there was an Association Between A2a Receptor Gene Polymorphisms and
Caffeine-Induced Anxiety. Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world: 82–92% of the adults in North America report regular consumption of caffeine-containing beverages. They used a total of 100 healthy, infrequent caffeine users, 54 men and 46 women. Essentially in the end they found that caffeine significantly increased scores on Stimulation, Anxiety and decreased scores on Depression and Fatigue.

This article says Consuming too much caffeine when you are already highly stressed is like adding fuel to the fire: you are simply revving up your body’s stress response. So we need to be wary of the link between caffeine and anxiety.

Coffee-induced anxiety <— This gives a lot of good advice and interesting glimpses into caffeine. If you go in complaining of panic attacks the first question they ask is do you drink coffee and how soon if your panic after your morning beverage.
The American Psychiatric Association has added three caffeine related disorders to its list of official diagnoses: caffeine intoxication, caffeine-related anxiety and caffeine-related sleep disorders. Caffeine is after all a psychoactive drug but it is the most widely used mood-altering drug in the world. Caffeine generally gives a sense of energy, focus, alertness, concentration, and memory for the majority of people.
However people predisposed to anxiety disorders may find caffeine can trigger a spiral of sensations. It can make your heart beat faster, raise your blood pressure, cause headaches, nervousness and dizziness. As we associate these feelings with a panic attack our body can then go into panic mode. It can be our head misinterpreting what are actually just the effects of caffeine. Nothing bad has happened, your body is just physically reacting to coffee but you are now going through the fight of flight scenario.

Obviously there are a variety of triggers for anxiety. But I was just pondering if caffeine might not be helping me in finding the peace and calm I have been seeking.
It seems to be suggested you start to taper off your caffeine consumption. Remember caffeine is in many foods and drinks – coffee is just the first one you think of! Tea (even green tea), carbonated beverages, chocolate, cocoa… Lots of things!

So from this weekend I will be stocking up on herbal teas and having a proper go at reducing my caffeine intake. I read this blog post and she says that although she still has anxiety after cutting out coffee, it seems to be slightly better. She has spells of calm and the panics don’t last as long. If this is something I could potentially have then I will try anything – I will hold on to that hopeful thought!