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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Does caffeine affect anxiety?

    I don't consider myself to be an OVERLY anxious person, but I do get nervous / stressed like most people do. However, I notice that when I drink caffeine I become VERY jittery and anxious. Does caffeine have an affect on anxiety?
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  • 1

    Thanks

    Damien Haines

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Damien Haines is a registered Clinical Psychologist who brings a warm and empathetic approach to therapy. He emphasises engagement in the world and encourages clients … View Profile

    Ohhh yes. Caffeine like any stimulant increases our arousal. Our level of arousal is directly linked to those more “active” emotions such as anxiety (stress, worry, concern, panic, anxiety), anger (irritation, frustration, annoyance, agitation) and excitement. Think here arousal being responsible for an increase to heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, sugar released into the body, adrenaline, suppression of appetite, etc.

    It is not uncommon for me to see people who have a coffee and a cigarette quickly followed by an anxiety or panic attack.

    I'd cut down if I were you, especially if it is interfering in your life.

  • Dr Louise Shepherd

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I am a clinical psychologist with 15 years experience working with all sorts of goals and issues. I love working with people, helping them to … View Profile

    It isn't a simple answer - some people seem to be able to drink more caffeine than others. I seem to remember that about one in six people is particularly sensitive to caffeine. I'd let your experience be the guide here given you have noticed a pattern. 

    I definitely find for me that if I have a coffee and then have to do public speaking I end up more anxious than I am when I haven't had a coffee. That is the only time that I personally notice it but many people find caffeine affects them negatively!

    Here is a guide to how much caffeine is in different products:
    http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumerinformation/caffeine/

    Oh and yes, as you suggest, we all get anxious and stressed - this is very very normal - unfortunately we tend to have funny beliefs about getting anxious as though it is the enemy when it is just one of many natural experiences that all humans get. Anxiety and other feelings such as sadness tend to become a problem for us when we struggle a lot to not have them - ironic hey?!?!

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