Why coffee makes you anxious and can cause panic attacks

Why coffee makes you anxious and can cause panic attacks

Coffee is the lifeblood of many people. It's a daily ritual, an essential part of your morning routine, and something you can't imagine living without.

The problem is that it isn't just one of the most popular beverages in the world – it's also highly addictive. Research shows that most people are addicted to their daily cappuccino, regular black, or flat white; 62 percent feel that they "cannot function" without it. 45% of those who drink a lot of coffee would like to lower their intake because caffeine can cause side effects such as anxiety and jitters.

And if you're like the majority of the world's population, you've probably developed a dependency over time – along with some unwanted effects such as anxiety. That's why today we want to talk about why coffee makes you anxious and can actually cause panic attacks.

While some people love their caffeine fix and don't want to change it up, others want to lower their daily dosage because they suffer from anxiety or chronic pain. If this sounds like the lifestyle change you would like to adopt, we have some tips for reducing your daily caffeine intake so that you can start feeling better overall.

The science of caffeine addiction

The first step is to better understand how caffeine works in your body and why it may be causing you problems. Let’s start with some quick science: it is a stimulant that can make us feel more awake and alert by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain. Adenosine is a chemical that makes us feel drowsy, and blocking it makes us less tired. Caffeine also increases dopamine levels in our brains, which gives us a sense of pleasure.

The problem is that this stimulant affects our stress hormones and can make us feel anxious or jittery too. It also increases the production of corticosteroids, hormones that can cause symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or muscle pain. Over time, excessive caffeine intake can lead to dependence – meaning you need it just to function normally.

Caffeine addiction is real

As it turns out, there's a reason why many people find themselves addicted to coffee. That’s because it contains caffeine, a stimulant that acts as a psychoactive substance in your body. And the effects of this beverage can be experienced within minutes of drinking it and can last for up to six hours.

People who drink coffee regularly may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop consuming it, including headaches and fatigue. Since it can affect how your brain works, you may feel anxious if you suddenly quit drinking it after regular consumption. Withdrawal symptoms include headache, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, drowsiness, and muscle aches.

This stimulant can also make you feel overly alert as well as give you the jitters – especially when consumed in large amounts. This can make some people feel nervous or restless when they don't have their usual amount of caffeine in their system.

What causes caffeine withdrawal?

The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal can be caused by both physical and psychological factors. Physically, the effects of this stimulant wear off over time, and when you quit consuming it, your natural sleep cycle returns to its normal state. Without caffeine in your system, you may feel tired and have difficulty concentrating on tasks that usually seem easy for you.

Psychologically, it acts as a stimulant that gives people energy throughout the day. However, without it, some individuals may feel anxious or depressed until they adjust to their new energy levels and the effects wear off.

Caffeine and anxiety: Why coffee makes you anxious?

The short answer is that caffeine increases adrenaline levels in your body, which causes your blood pressure to rise and your heart rate to increase – both of which can lead to feelings of anxiety.

This increased adrenaline level can also lead to symptoms such as trembling, sweating, palpitations, and muscle tension – all symptoms associated with panic attacks. 

The long answer is a little more complicated. Caffeine stimulates the body's central nervous system, which in turn can cause changes in brain chemistry and function. These changes may affect how you feel, think and act – including how anxious you get.

Caffeine can also trigger the release of hormones in your body that can lead to increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. This is why coffee or tea can make you feel warm and flushed. In short, these are all symptoms associated with anxiety and panic attacks.

How to cut down your coffee intake?

If you're addicted to coffee, then you probably already know how hard it is to quit. It's hard to give up a ritual that's so ingrained in your daily life. But there are some things you can do to help make the transition easier and smoother – without experiencing withdrawal effects:

  • Start by cutting down on the amount of coffee or tea you drink each day, gradually reducing how much until it's no longer an issue. For example, if you drink four cups, try cutting it down to three. Then, when you're used to drinking only three cups a day, cut back again – first by one cup and then by another until you're down to zero.
  • Drink water instead of your cappuccino! This is a great way to get some extra hydration into your diet, and it will help you avoid feeling dehydrated and unrested.
  • Start drinking herbal teas instead! These can be just as delicious – if not more so – than their caffeinated counterparts and are a great way to get some variety into your diet.
  • Try to eat a balanced diet and make sure you're getting enough nutrients. This can help improve your mood and help reduce the cravings that you may have for caffeine.
  • If you drink too much coffee and feel anxious as a result, you might want to consider switching to Blended Ritual instead! It's a rich blend of mushrooms, ayurvedic spices, and superfoods that will give you energy, focus and balance without jitters, crashes or dependency!
With 80% less caffeine than a cup of coffee, Awakening provides a balanced alternative for Energy and Focus support while reducing your caffeine intake, all without giving up on your ritual.