Do you sometimes find it hard to sleep? Do you feel jittery? Anxious? Nervous? Do you have test or performance anxiety or perhaps find it hard to settle in new situations or around new people? There are many factors that affect our mood and peace of mind, some more obvious than others. Have you ever considered that caffeine can actually affect your mood? I don’t just mean by giving you energy, but did you know caffeine can actually exacerbate anxiety? The medical students I teach are always surprised to learn that the very caffeine they use to pull all-nighters in preparing for exams might be perpetuating/maintaining the anxiety they feel in their performance!
The authors of Healthline article Does Caffeine Cause Anxiety cited Harvard Medical School who found that caffeine use can actually mimic symptoms of anxiety. Specifically, they enumerated the following caffeine-induced symptoms that mirror anxiety:
You can imagine, then, the importance of properly ruling out caffeine-related factors in assessing the nature of physical issues you might be experiencing. It is so helpful to consider the least invasive considerations and solutions to our problems when struggling with something and empowering ourselves with small behavioral changes in lifestyle/diet/activity that can have a tremendous impact on our health.
Read more on the effects of caffeine on manifestation of anxiety at the article above, and consider reducing or eliminating caffeine from your diet, even short-term as an experiment. You might just be amazed at how much better you sleep and feel! Don’t be surprised if you experience headaches thru the caffeine withdrawal phase! It’s a real thing! Other symptoms you might experience, especially if stopping abruptly, include fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, tremors, irritability…and you guessed it…anxiety! Go figure. The authors note that caffeine withdrawal is not considered dangerous but can be difficult and distressing. As always, I recommend consulting your doctor and/or nutritionist for suggestions on how to cut back gradually, attending to adequate sleep, exercise, and hydration.
Other common yet surprising triggers for anxiety are nicely laid out in another Healthline article here, including skipping meals, medication side effects, health issues, and social factors. Find more resources and videos on curbing cravings, behavioral sleep hygiene, and healthy lifestyle changes in other blog entires I’ve posted and under Invest in Personal Growth: FREE Resources.