Can Decaf Coffee Cause Anxiety? An Argument That Keeps You Anxious All The Time

Coffee. The elixir of wonder. 

Coffee is probably the most popular beverage in the world. Many people love to start their morning with a little coffee boost; many prefer to stay active and awake all day long. 

However, many love coffee but don’t prefer much caffeine intake for health issues or personal preferences. Decaffeinated coffee, aka decaf coffee, is their way out.

However, can decaf coffee cause anxiety in you? The answer lies with you: your health condition and your total intake of caffeine.

In this article, we will explore decaf coffee and its connection to your body, especially anxiety.

What Is Decaf Coffee?

 can decaf coffee cause anxiety depends on your health condition

Decaffeinated coffee, in short, decaf coffee, is like regular coffee with at least 97% of the caffeine removed. One serving of decaf coffee contains about 2 to 5 milligrams of caffeine, as opposed to 50 to 75 milligrams in regular coffee.

The nutritional properties of decaf coffee are almost similar to regular coffee, except for the caffeine content. The taste and smell of decaf coffee may not seem that good as regular coffee but it is a good choice for people preferring less caffeine.

What Is Anxiety?

Before jumping into how decaf affects anxiety, it’s important to know what anxiety is. 

Anxiety is a common feeling that everyone feels at some point in their lives. It’s a reaction that your body creates when you are stressed or fearful about something, causing you to feel worried, upset, nervous, or in some cases, panic.

However, if you have anxiety or nervousness quite frequently, you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can be categorized into two: general anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

General Anxiety

General anxiety is a natural nervousness or fearful feeling that comes and goes as your body reacts to everyday stress. This is normal, and you do not need any medication.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder(GAD) is an anxiety disorder that is classified by someone who is experiencing anxiety regularly for at least 6 months. The person will feel worried and stressed most of the time and have anxiety for possibly no reason at all.

GAD usually can affect every aspect of your life. There may be changes in your behavior, changes in sleeping patterns, your ability to concentrate, and sometimes may lead to panic attacks. This is diagnosed by a doctor.

For someone who has GAD, symptoms may include:

  • Nervousness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Brisk breathing
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Trembling
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal issues

Can Decaf Coffee Cause Anxiety?

 can decaf coffee cause anxiety
Image by Workanda pix from Pixabay

Coffee, especially caffeine doesn’t cause anxiety itself however it may worsen symptoms in people already having symptoms of anxiety.

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases your heart rate which can contribute to anxiety. However little, decaffeinated coffee contains a small amount of caffeine. No method of caffeine extraction can remove 100% caffeine from coffee.  

However, it totally depends on your total intake of caffeine a day. Excessing caffeine may intensify anxiety and lead to panic attacks. 

People with a generalized anxiety disorder are recommended to limit the amount of caffeine they ingest to contain the intensity of the symptoms.

Remember: every individual responds to caffeine differently. Therefore, the effects depend on how well your body tolerates caffeine.

Living With Decaf and Anxiety

Can decaf coffee cause anxiety? No. Just because caffeine can cause the same symptoms of anxiety, does not mean it causes anxiety. However, it may worsen the condition. For this, the first thing you must know tolerance levels as well as how much caffeine you should have per day.

400 milligrams: the daily amount of caffeine intake recommended by the doctors. But if you are suffering from anxiety issues, you should drink far below this limit.

There are a few responsible ways to ingest caffeine if you have symptoms of anxiety and panic disorder.

  • Plenty of water. Coffee is a diuretic. So, it is recommended to drink enough water so that you don’t get dehydrated from coffee. Dehydration is something that can worsen the effects of caffeine on your anxiety.
  • Don’t drink it all the time. Take advantage of the benefits of caffeine from your decaf when you need it the most.
  • Avoid before bed. It is recommended to stop drinking coffee about ten hours before bed. If you keep drinking it, the remnants of coffee in your system can affect your sleeping pattern and you may not get your sound sleep.
  • Self wake up call. Give your body a chance to wake up itself without offering any caffeine. Rather drink coffee when you feel your energy is slowing down, maybe in midmorning.
  • Consider other sources of caffeine for anxiety. There are also other sources of caffeine: chocolate, tea, certain medicines that you may be eating and drinking. So, it may not just be the coffee causing you anxiety.

How Much Caffeine Decaf Coffee Contains?

Decaf coffee is totally caffeine-free coffee: this is not true. In fact, it contains caffeine in different amounts, commonly about 3 mg per cup.

 can decaf coffee cause anxiety
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Depending on the coffee type, preparation process, and size of the cup, an average cup of regular coffee contains about 70–140 mg of caffeine. On the other hand, every 6 ounces (180 mL) cup of decaf contains 0–7 mg of caffeine, according to a study.

Yes, decaf coffee contains caffeine but the amount is itty-bitty.

What Caffeine Does To Your Body?

Caffeine is a type of psychostimulant drug that is an active ingredient in coffee. It works on the central nervous system, an area of the brain, and blocks a molecule called adenosine. As a result, alertness is activated.

A cup of coffee can keep you alert and allow you to focus on things. However, it can cause you other effects though they are rarely dangerous. 

Changes in mood, upset stomach, feeling shaky, and elevated heart rate are the usual side effects of caffeine. They usually depend on how much coffee you drink a day, as well as your tolerance for caffeine. They also depend on your body mass and genetics.

Health Benefits of Decaf Coffee

Simply because the caffeine in coffee can intensify symptoms of anxiety, it is not the devil it sounds. Rather coffee, especially decaf coffee, is pretty healthy.

Though there’s some side effects of decaf coffee but, first let’s explore some health benefits of decaf coffee.

loaded with antioxidants

Coffee is the single biggest source of antioxidants. The main antioxidants in coffee are hydroxycinnamic acids and polyphenols. However, decaf has a little lower amount of antioxidants, maybe up to 15% lower, due to the caffeine extraction process.

Antioxidants help neutralize reactive compounds aka free radicals, reduce oxidative damage, and lower the risk of many diseases: dementia, neurodegenerative diseases, and rectal cancer, 

Less Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Drinking decaf coffee or regular coffee may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Every day Each cup may reduce the risk up to 7%.

Studies show that decaffeinated coffee raises blood sugar, insulin, and glucose that makes the beverage a preventative alternative to fighting premature type 2 diabetes.

Improve Sleep and Lower Anxiety

Caffeine in regular coffee can create havoc on your sleep, causing symptoms of insomnia. Switching to decaf can help reduce insomnia and improve your overall energy in the morning. 

Can decaf coffee cause anxiety? No. Rather helps lower anxiety, especially with people suffering from anxiety disorders as decaf coffee contains very little caffeine.

Reduce Acidity

Decaf coffee has a lower acidic content, which is due to the decaffeination process. So for people, who suffer from chronic heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), switching to decaf coffee can help reduce flare-ups of acid reflux and other side effects.

Lower The Risk of Fatal Cardiovascular Diseases

Decaf may help reduce the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases. Since caffeine can worsen heart problems due to its stimulating effects, switching to decaf may be better for your health if your family has a history of heart problems.

Side Effects of Decaf Coffee

Decaf coffee may be healthier than regular coffee, but there are some side effects of decaf coffee.

May Aggravate Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some studies show that decaf coffee may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. The main reason might be the preparation and processing of decaffeinated coffee.

May Interfere With Iron Absorption

Both regular coffee and decaf coffee contain chlorogenic acid that was found to inhibit non-heme (plant-based) iron absorption.

May Cause Heart Complications

Studies show that decaffeinated coffee might increase the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and increase a specific blood fat that is linked to metabolic syndrome.

FAQ

Who should choose Decaf over regular coffee?

People who are sensitive to caffeine may switch over to decaf coffee to limit their caffeine intake.

People with certain medical conditions, pregnant and breastfeeding women, individuals with anxiety disorder, and who have trouble sleeping are recommended to choose decaf over regular coffee.

How much is too much caffeine?

Caffeine tolerance is different in each individual. However, most experts agree that you should avoid over 400 mg of caffeine per day. This is roughly equal to four cups of regular coffee.

But, if you are sensitive to caffeine, even one or two cups of coffee could cause side effects. For pregnant women, the safe limit is only 200 milligrams.

What can you drink instead of coffee for anxiety?

Coffee isn’t the only thing that can kick-start your day. If you are prone to anxiety, try different sources of boosters: green tea, black tea, white tea, maca, bone broth, or apple cider vinegar.

Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels

Bottom Line

Coffee is one of the healthiest drinks in the universe that is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that reduce several serious diseases.

However, not everyone can drink coffee who has caffeine issues. For them, decaf is an excellent alternative.

Yes, caffeine in regular coffee may intensify the symptoms of anxiety. However, can decaf coffee cause anxiety? No, because it contains such little amount of caffeine that may reduce the side effects of too much caffeine.

Therefore, enjoy decaf that contains almost all benefits but fewer side effects of regular coffee.

Shaila Amaraj

Hey! My name is Shaila. I am a fourth-year medical student all the way from Malaysia. Apart from meeting the patients in the ward, I would love to engage with the readers by writing out articles during my leisure time. Content writing has always had a soft spot in me, as I love spilling out my thoughts that I could actually put into words. I also keep up with my blog on the medical school lifestyle. In fact, writing isn't a hobby, it is a blessing.

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