4 MIN READ | Mental Health

Coffee and Anxiety: How the Two Are Intrinsically Linked

James Wallace

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James Wallace, (2020, September 28). Coffee and Anxiety: How the Two Are Intrinsically Linked. Psychreg on Mental Health. https://www.psychreg.org/coffee-and-anxiety/
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While a cup of coffee in the morning can be a great energy boost, if you have anxiety, you can start to suffer from the caffeine. Coffee and anxiety can mix in unpredictable ways and cause your mental health to plummet.

What can happen when you mix the two, and how can you tell that you need to cut back on your coffee intake?

Here is a guide on what happens when you combine the effects of coffee and anxiety, and when you should stop drinking coffee. 

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is described as a strong feeling of irrational fear or discomfort and can be caused by a variety of factors. It is our body’s natural response to stress, but it can sometimes be inaccurate. In long-lasting cases of severe anxiety, it can turn into anxiety disorder and can also lead to depression and other mental illnesses. 

The exact causes of anxiety are unknown and can vary from person to person, but there are a few potential reasons for anxiety. Traumatic events, extreme stress from work or life events, or big life changes can all cause anxiety.

Anxiety disorder has many symptoms, including, but not limited to:

  • Rapid/shallow breathing
  • An increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Difficulty concentrating

While there is no real cure for anxiety disorders, there are many treatment options available. Lifestyle changes can occasionally clear up any feelings of anxiety. Otherwise, therapy, medications, and meditation practices can help lessen your anxiety or give you coping mechanisms for panic attacks.

The effects of caffeine on the body

Coffee and other caffeinated beverages can have a strong effect on the body. The effects of coffee can include: 

  • Dehydration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased blood pressure

Coffee can have positive effects on the body as well, but it’s important to consider the dangers of consuming too much caffeine. 

Caffeine withdrawal comes with its own set of symptoms as well. If you go without coffee for too long, you can expect to become drowsy, extremely irritable, and anxious. You may also have a hard time concentrating and be prone to vomiting as well.

Too much coffee can also lead to digestive issues like diarrhoea and excess urination. This is because the body can’t store caffeine, so it has to be processed by the liver and discarded as waste. 

Caffeine overdoses are also possible, though this usually occurs with the usage of caffeine pills and energy drinks rather than coffee alone. It’s important to consume your coffee in moderation to keep yourself healthy.

What happens when coffee and anxiety are mixed

Drinking too much coffee or experiencing caffeine withdrawal can cause you to develop anxiety. This is why it’s important to monitor your caffeine intake and keep yourself from becoming dependent on coffee.

If you already have an anxiety disorder and choose to drink coffee, you may run into problems. Caffeine and anxiety both have effects on heart rate and blood pressure. When the two are combined, your heart rate can skyrocket, increasing your already heightened anxiety levels. This can create a negative feedback loop leading to severe mental illness.

Your heart may start to suffer as well. While it works faster to try to keep up with your caffeine intake and stress, it may start to wear itself out. Too much caffeine and anxiety can lead to heart-related illnesses, including strokes and heart attacks.

You may also find yourself having a harder time getting to sleep and staying asleep. Both caffeine and anxiety can cause insomnia and other sleep disorders, which may affect your overall quality of life.

Severe mood swings can occur as your body fights between anxiety and irritability. You may find yourself lashing out more and becoming angry with little reason. 

If you notice yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, or you find that your anxiety is worsening, you should immediately try to cut back on coffee. For extreme symptoms, you may also want to consult your doctor for more advice.

How quitting coffee can improve your anxiety

Leaving coffee behind can help to improve your anxiety and mental wellbeing. It can also benefit you physically, giving your heart and digestive system a break from constant work.

Your mood will slowly begin to improve along with your anxiety, and you will become less likely to get irritable or upset over little things. 

By quitting or consuming less coffee, you will become less prone to serious heart conditions and lower your blood pressure significantly. Having less blood flow will also help to relieve muscle aches and headaches. 

Your sleep cycle should improve as well. You may need to create a good sleep routine and schedule for yourself to really see an improvement, but falling and staying asleep should come to you much more easily.

Depending on how much coffee you drink, you may have to wait a while as your withdrawal symptoms wear off to start feeling less anxious. If after quitting coffee, you’re still experiencing symptoms of anxiety, you should talk with your doctor about other treatment options to start living a healthier life.

Improve your mental well-being today

Coffee and anxiety can cause serious negative consequences if left unchecked. While you can still consume some amounts of caffeine if you have an anxiety disorder, it’s still crucial that you do so sparingly to keep your mental health in line!

What have you learned? Do you have issues with a caffeine dependency that you’re trying to kick? 

It’s important to keep your mental health balanced. For more information on mental wellbeing, continue reading our blog, and contact us with any questions you might have about mental health.


James Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.


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