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Can Caffeine Cause Anxiety? Tips & Healthy Caffeine Consumption

woman with polished nails having coffee

Many people love coffee, especially in the morning. However, some people get a little too excited or tense after drinking it, and many people want to know if coffee can cause anxiety. The short answer is yes, coffee can cause anxiety in some people, especially if they have a low tolerance. Keep reading as we look into why coffee can increase stress levels in some people and if there’s anything that can be done to prevent it.

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Can Caffeine Cause Anxiety?

Caffeine is a powerful drug that can help increase awareness and focus. It also provides energy. It works by blocking a brain chemical named adenosine, which makes you feel tired. Blocking the production of this chemical helps you feel awake and alert, which is partly why people like to mix alcohol with Red Bull. The caffeine in Red Bull enables them to drink more alcohol, leading to overindulgence.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a study published by the American Psychiatric Association that helps professionals diagnose mental disorders. It states that caffeine can cause anxiety, sleep disorders, and a few other problems to worsen. The report also suggests that if the caffeine intake is high enough, the user can even experience a panic attack.

anxious woman
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

Other Problems Associated With Caffeine and Anxiety


People can experience other problems after consuming too much caffeine, including nervousness and restlessness. These can lead to anxiety and affect your comfort level and sense of time.

Increased Heart Rate

A faster heart rate will help burn calories, but it can be stressful for a weak heart. The increased heart rate can also increase blood pressure.


Caffeine is a diuretic, so many people need to go to the restroom after a cup of their favorite coffee, especially if they are not regular drinkers. The diuretic property of caffeine can also affect your intestines, which can lead to gastrointestinal issues. In addition, it reduces the amount of fluid in your kidneys and bladder, making it easier for the minerals in your urine to combine and form stones.

sleepless woman in bed
Image Credit: Kinga Cichewicz, Unsplash

Sleep Disorders

Since coffee blocks the adenosine that your brain creates to make you tired, many people struggle to fall asleep at night after consuming too much. They can even develop sleep disorders if they don’t address the situation quickly and make adjustments. Caffeine takes a long time to wear off, so it’s easy to consume it too late in the day to get a good night’s rest, especially if you aren’t a regular drinker. Studies show that your body removes half the caffeine that you consume every 5 hours. So, if you drink a cup of coffee with about 100 g of caffeine, after 5 hours, your body will still have about 50 mg, which is enough to keep you awake if you are sensitive. A large Starbucks coffee can contain 330 mg of caffeine, which can take more than 20 hours to get through your system.

Caffeine Amount in Milligrams Hours Past
330 0
165 5
82.5 10
41 15
20 20

How Much Caffeine Is Safe to Ingest?

Most guidelines recommend ingesting no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day to minimize the aforementioned health problems. Since the standard morning coffee that you brew at home contains 95–140 mg, you can have about 4 cups before going over the limit. This caffeine limit is easy to reach if you get your beverages from local coffee shops, as many contain one or two added shots of espresso at 63 mg of caffeine per ounce. They can also be large, often reaching 32 ounces, which is four times the average 8-ounce morning coffee.

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What Can I Do If I Drink Too Much Coffee?

Eat a Protein Bar

Many people consume coffee and other caffeinated beverages on an empty stomach. When the caffeine kicks in, it can feel like an overdose, giving you the jitters, stomach problems, and other issues. Eating a protein bar or another high-protein food can help add real energy into the mix, giving you the fuel that you need to put your energy to work and helping you feel better and more stable.

Take Deep Breaths

sporty woman having cup of coffee outdoors
Image Credit: Svitlana Hulko, Shutterstock

If you notice that your heart is racing and you feel uneasy, taking a few deep breaths every few minutes can help relax the body and slow everything down, which can help you feel better. Slow, mindful deep breathing exercises can help you get the results that you need without becoming lightheaded or dizzy.

Drink Water

Caffeine is a powerful diuretic, and consuming it can make you urinate frequently and even give you diarrhea. It also causes problems inside your body, leading to gastrointestinal issues and kidney and bladder stones. The best way to avoid these issues is to drink plenty of water any time that you consume caffeine, to resupply your body with the water that it loses. This water consumption is even more essential if you exceed the 400-mg-per-day caffeine recommendation.

Go for a Walk

girl going for a walk with her dog
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

If you’re suffering from caffeine-induced anxiety, the best way to deal with it is to do an activity that puts all that extra energy to use. Walking is a perfect choice because you can do it for a longer period than running or many other exercises that will quickly tire you out, so it can help you feel more balanced, especially if you combine it with the other steps listed here.

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Unfortunately, caffeine does cause many people to have anxiety after consuming it. It can be more pronounced in people who don’t drink it often or who drink it on an empty stomach. If you frequently feel anxious, try to eat more protein along with your beverages. Reducing the amount of coffee that you consume or choosing a lighter roast can help lessen the feelings of anxiety, but some people are extra sensitive and might do better switching to decaf or tea.

Featured Image Credit: Alehandra13, Pixabay


Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker, a veteran writer, has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming, and of course, coffee. He drinks a lot of it when he writes, making him an expert indeed. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.

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