Research shows that caffeine can induce or worsen anxiety, especially in mental health patients. 1 Because of insomnia and sleep deprivation, caffeine may also increase restlessness, studies assert.
Many beverages, such as coffee, soda, cola, and even energy drinks, contain caffeine. Caffeine is known to boost energy and alertness, making it a favorite amongst workers and students.2
As a stimulant, caffeine can block adenosine receptors, known to induce sleep. When you consume caffeinated drinks, you may lose sleep for several hours, causing loss of concentration or headaches.
Students preparing for exams or tests also consume this stimulant, especially coffee, to stay awake. While caffeine is not a severe threat to human health, drinking it in large quantities may affect your mental and psychological health.
In a study conducted in three schools in South England, the investigator discovered that the consumption of soda or energy drinks amongst schoolchildren is associated with stress and anxiety. 3
Similarly, the study asserted that caffeinated drinks increased the stress levels in children with a high consumption rate. On the other hand, students consuming lower quantities experienced lower stress levels.
Although research argues that caffeine could trigger anxiety, some studies show that it may suppress depression in mental health patients.
Caffeine And Anxiety
Anxiety is a mental health disorder associated with fear or panic. 4 While it’s natural to be anxious in some circumstances without having an anxiety disorder, patients suffering from this mental state experience more severe symptoms.
Similarly, patients with this disorder may also consume higher quantities of caffeine than healthy subjects. This may be a way to reduce some symptoms of the condition.
In a study conducted to assess caffeine use in panic disorder patients, a type of anxiety disorder, the researchers studied the consumption of caffeine in panic disorder patients and healthy individuals.
Results showed that these patients suffered sleep deprivation because of their high caffeine consumption. Additionally, they also experienced headaches when they stopped consuming the stimulant.
Still, the study could not associate depression or anxiety with the consumption of caffeinated substances.
Millions of people consume coffee—a drink known for its caffeine content, to stay alert and improve their concentration level. However, it is not a good idea to consume this stimulant if you are sensitive to it.
People with high sensitivity may experience some heightened effects of caffeine, such as headaches and restlessness.5
Anxiety has some symptoms, which cuts across different types of anxiety disorders. While being anxious is similar to nervousness, it's crucial to know that they are distinct concepts and should not be mistaken for the other.
To understand signs of anxiety, here are some common symptoms:
- Nausea: If you experience nausea frequently, you may have an anxiety disorder. Nausea is a condition, which is usually associated with vomiting. When you have nausea, you may feel sick to your stomach, causing you to vomit.6
- Racing pulse: Racing pulse is another symptom of an anxiety disorder. When your pulse is racing, you may feel your heart pounding faster than average. This is quite common amongst anxiety disorder patients, especially those suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD).
- Restlessness: Restlessness is an inability to stay calm. A restless person is usually unstable and full of energy. Still, this symptom may also be a sign of other health concerns.
- Panic: It is not uncommon for patients suffering from anxiety to get panic attacks. A panic attack is a state of exaggerated fear or alarm caused by a perceived threat of danger. Even if the threat is unfounded, anxiety patients may still experience this condition.
- Trouble sleeping: Insomnia may also be another sign of anxiety. Similarly, many mental health patients struggle to get enough sleep due to restlessness.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
Caffeine is a great way to wake your body, especially when you have lots of work to do. However, consuming large quantities of this stimulant may cause undesired effects.
According to research, up to 400mg of caffeine is considered safe for adults. 7 Generally, this dose is around four cups of coffee. Still, it’s crucial to know the quantity of caffeine you take to avoid overdosing.
Similarly, consuming higher than 400mg may trigger some side effects, which may affect your health.
Consuming this stimulant often boosts energy and may improve mood. However, when you abruptly stop taking it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as moodiness, depression, and even headaches.
Experts advise reducing the intake gradually to curb addiction. Parents are also advised not to give coffee or other highly caffeinated drinks to young children.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also talk to their doctors about safe quantity of caffeine to consume. Consuming too much coffee or other caffeinated drinks may result in tremors, headaches, or even irritability.
There are some symptoms associated with caffeine use. These symptoms show you what to expect when you consume this stimulant.
Because many people drink coffee, understanding these signs may help you understand your body's tolerance and sensitivity level.
Here are some signs of caffeine use:
- Insomnia: Insomnia is an inability to sleep, even when you want to. Because of caffeine's ability to bind adenosine receptors, you might find it challenging to get sufficient sleep at night. If you notice a relationship between your lack of sleep and caffeine consumption, you should reduce your intake. 8
- Feeling of euphoria: When you take caffeinated drinks, you may feel happy and excited. Some studies have shown that stimulants may improve your mood, especially when consumed in safe dosages. 9
- Tiredness: Tiredness is another symptom of caffeine usage. When you experience insomnia, you may feel tired and irritated. Getting adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining good health.
- Headaches: This is one of the most common symptoms of caffeine use. Although symptoms vary due to genetics and tolerance levels, headaches are quite common amongst people who consume caffeinated drinks.
- Alertness: When you take drinks with caffeine, you may experience a heightened alertness level.
Symptoms Of Caffeine-Induced Anxiety
Reports have linked caffeine consumption to increased or aggravated anxiety. While studies assured that caffeine is not a direct cause of anxiety, many assert that the stimulant may worsen conditions in mental health patients.
It is not uncommon for caffeine to induce panic attacks in patients who already suffer from such a condition. When you consume too much caffeine, you may also experience symptoms similar to anxiety, causing the health condition.
In both conditions, people experience nervousness. Nervousness is a state associated with dry mouth, racing pulse, and muscle tension.
Because of the similarity, it may be challenging to differentiate caffeine-induced symptoms and anxiety. Further, both conditions cause sleep deprivation. Many patients suffering from anxiety do not get sufficient sleep, which often worsens the situation.
On a similar note, caffeine may cause sleeplessness in consumers, which may result in anxiety, studies argue. On the other hand, anxiety could also cause sleep deprivation and restlessness.
Another symptom of caffeine-induced anxiety is restlessness. This may be because of the inability to rest or sleep.
Sportspersons often consume caffeinated drinks, which are widely known as energy drinks. 10 These drinks may induce anxiety, especially when consumed in high quantities.
It is best not to consume more than 400mg of caffeine to prevent some unwanted symptoms of caffeine use.
Studies have shown that caffeine is not a direct cause of caffeine. However, this stimulant may worsen existing conditions. Similarly, high caffeine consumption results in numerous side effects, which are quite similar to anxiety symptoms. Still, experts recommend not going above the recommended quantity of caffeine to avoid triggering undesired conditions.