Why Does Coffee Make Me Anxious? 5 Ways To Avoid the Jittery Post-Coffee Feeling

Have you been feeling anxious lately? Do you feel suffocated at some point of the day, as if pressure is building inside you? If you are a coffee drinker, we may have some bad news for you. There are chances that your daily dose of caffeine might be the problem.

But how can coffee make me anxious

Coffee itself does not induce anxiety. However, if you are already an anxiety patient, taking an excessive amount of coffee can aggravate your symptoms. Since it activates your sympathetic nerve activity, you feel an adrenaline rush with increased heart rate and blood pressure. This may feel like an anxiety attack, but in reality, it is just the caffeine working. 

Read this article if you want to know why does coffee make me anxious all of a sudden. We also have tips on how to drink coffee with anxiety and avoid the after-effects. 

How Are Coffee and Anxiety Related?

On average, the world consumes almost 100,000 metric tons of caffeine each year. While some of it is through chocolates, sodas, and tea, coffee contributes the most. This is why you may have heard people asking, why does coffee make me anxious but not tea? The answer lies in the caffeine quantity!

The caffeine in the coffee works by stimulating the CNS (Central Nervous System). It blocks the adenosine receptors responsible for sleep, so you are wide awake. Additionally, caffeine also promotes the release of dopamine which acts as a mood lifter, resulting in motivation and attentiveness.

coffee-and-anxiety-coffee-makes-me-anxious

All this sounds good; then why is coffee starting to make me anxious? For people with pre-diagnosed anxiety, caffeine stimulation can be overwhelming, leading to an anxiety attack. Combined with certain drugs, especially anti-depressants, the aftereffects of coffee may turn out ugly. 

Another major cause of anxiety after coffee is lack of activity. When you consume coffee, your nervous system gets stimulated and ready for strenuous work. However, it gets bottled up if you do not use the energy, resulting in jitters. 

Sugar is another contributing factor for post-coffee jitters. Just like caffeine stimulates your nervous system, sugar increases your blood glucose level and, thus, your energy level. When the energy is not utilized, the result is fatigue, increased heart, and anxiety. 

What Is Anxiety? 7 Common Symptoms of Anxiety

Since caffeine has almost the same symptoms as anxiety, you may be only experiencing the caffeine after effects, not anxiety. Fortunately, you can easily tackle this by limiting your coffee consumption. Read on to find out why does drinking coffee make me anxious.

anxiety-symptoms

Anxiety is a state of worry or fear, which may be with or without any reason. However, if your anxiety lasts for more than six months and is extreme in nature, you may have an anxiety disorder that needs a proper diagnosis. Some common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Tachycardia (Increased heart rate)
  • Nervousness
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia (Trouble sleeping)

Caffeine often induces the same symptoms, including fatigue, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and insomnia. To get to the cause of your anxiety, keep track of how you feel after taking coffee. Reduce your intake for a few days and see if you notice any difference. If the symptoms persist, discuss it with your physician or doctor. 

How Many Cups of Coffee Should You Drink in a Day?

Coffee is not the problem; excessive coffee is. This is why it is crucial you know your limit. Every person has a different threshold. While some people can take 2 to 3 cups of coffee per day without any side effects, for others, even one cup is more than enough. 

According to the FDA, the normal caffeine intake should not exceed 400 mg per day. It also depends on your age, past medical history, and general sensitivity to coffee. Therefore, it is upon you to determine how much coffee you can take.

a-cup-of-coffee

Notice how you feel right after you take your coffee. If you feel even the slightest bit restless and anxious, it is time you cut down your intake. While one or two cups of coffee a day are not prone to damage, it is better if you do not get addicted to it. 

Will Decaf Coffee Make Me Anxious?

It depends on your caffeine threshold. Although decaf coffee contains comparatively less caffeine, it still has caffeine. For an estimate, decaf coffee contains 2 mg of caffeine, as opposed to 95 mg in regular coffee. Thus, decaf coffee is an excellent alternative if you are prone to caffeine anxiety attacks

decaf-coffee

However, if you still feel dizzy and anxious after decaf coffee, it is better you stay off it and try another alternative. People with anxiety disorders should limit their coffee, even decaf. 

How to Get Rid of Anxiety After Drinking Coffee?

What if we told you there is a solution for the anxiety caused by coffee. While the most probable answer is cutting it off, many of us cannot think of starting our day without our dose. So what do we do? Read on to find out!

Switch to Decaf

Are you addicted to coffee but cannot tolerate it? Well, decaf is the answer. Since decaf coffee contains a significantly reduced amount of caffeine, you can take it without fear of anxiety or insomnia.

Besides, it tastes almost the same as caffeinated coffee, so no loss! However, it still has some caffeine content so keep a check on your intake.  

Substitute With Matcha Tea

If your doctor asks you to totally cut off coffee from your diet, as in cases of anxiety disorders, matcha tea comes to the rescue.

matcha-tea

Matcha is a type of green tea with a higher amount of caffeine than regular green tea, thus making it a great alternative to coffee. It is also natural and less processed than coffee, adding to its worth. 

Exercise Regularly

To avoid the jittery feeling caused by bottled-up energy, thanks to coffee, exercise regularly. By working out daily after your morning coffee, you basically burn the caffeine faster before it induces anxiety or jitters. 

Even if you are taking coffee to stay up during your exam prep or office work, go for a walk or stretch for a few minutes. This will metabolize the coffee in your system, so it does not cause any issues. 

Stay Hydrated

Besides a stimulant, coffee is also a diuretic and causes more urination. Make it a rule to drink a glass of water every hour, or for every cup of coffee, you take. Since you will urinate more, the coffee gets out of your system before it gets time to induce anxiety or any other symptoms.

Do Not Take Coffee Late in the Evening

This is pretty obvious, isn’t it? Coffee stimulates your CNS, so it keeps you awake. A single cup of coffee stays on your system for 3 to 5 hours. 

coffee-latte

Therefore, taking coffee late in the evening may hamper your sleep cycle and, in the worst case, cause insomnia. Always take your last cup of coffee at least 7 hours before you go to sleep. 

How Long Does Caffeine Anxiety Last?

Caffeine anxiety lasts as long as caffeine stays in your system. Different people have different caffeine metabolism. If your caffeine metabolism is fast, the caffeine gets absorbed really fast before the anxiety kicks in. 

For people with a slower metabolism, the caffeine stays in the system for longer, leading to anxiety symptoms. The symptoms start showing in an hour and may last for 3 to 5 hours, depending on your metabolism. 

Why does even one cup of coffee makes me jittery? This is because you have a lower threshold with a slow metabolism, and a single cup of coffee is enough to induce caffeine symptoms in you. 

Final Verdict 

One of the most common questions when it comes to coffee is, “Can coffee make me anxious?”. Well, now you know that it cannot. However, it can definitely make your anxiety worse if you have a pre-diagnosed condition. 

Don’t worry! You can easily avoid this anxiety by limiting your intake. Make sure you know your caffeine threshold and never exceed it. Decaf coffee also greatly helps minimize anxiety symptoms and is a healthy option. 

FAQs

Let’s check out some of the frequently asked questions.

Why Does Caffeine Make Me Feel Stressed?

Caffeine can make you feel stressed due to overstimulation of the central nervous system. A stimulated CNS gives you a burst of energy and motivation, and if it is not utilized, it ends up giving you anxiety. Besides, caffeine is also known to induce symptoms similar to stress, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, making you feel stressed. 

Why Does Iced Coffee Make Me Anxious?

Iced coffee has the same amount of caffeine as hot coffee, which may make you anxious. While coffee does not cause anxiety, it can intensify your anxiety symptoms if you overdose on it.

Marium Sohail

Marium Sohail

Marium Sohail is an MBBS student at Karachi Medical And Dental College, Pakistan. Besides spending a major chunk of her time studying about the human body, she love breaking down the what's and how's of medicine for people through her writing. During her free time, she can be found with a book in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

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