Can Drinking Coffee Cause Caffeine Panic Attacks?
Caffeine is a substance that is known as a stimulant, which means it speeds up your nervous system. Quite frankly, it is the most widely used drug in the world, used in everything from your morning cup of coffee to chocolate, soda, and many common medicines.
When you take caffeine into your body, it can elevate your mood, give you a temporary burst of energy, increase brain activity, and accelerate the function of the nervous system. But can too much caffeine cause anxiety or is it just an innocent case of the jitters?
Caffeine temporarily reduces the effects of a chemical called adenosine in the brain, which regulates the amount of calcium your neurons receive. When flooded with calcium, your nervous system can go into overdrive causing your heart to race, feelings of nervousness or restlessness, and mild headache or stomach pain.
Does this sound similar to something else? Maybe a panic attack?
In a study conducted by Yale University and the National Institute for Mental Health, researchers discovered that the majority of people given a high dose of caffeine (about 8 cups of coffee worth) experienced caffeine panic attacks.
Personally, I don’t find this all that surprising. The physical symptoms of anxiety are very similar to those of too much caffeine. If you’re already predisposed to having an anxiety disorder, you can easily interpret the physical sensations caused by caffeine as the beginnings of a panic attack.
So, yes, coffee can trigger caffeine panic attacks simply due to the fact that it:
- induces similar physical sensations and
- blocks the effects of adenosine and can cause rapid firing or neurons in the brain.
If you’re suffering from caffeine panic attacks, what ca you do?
Well, the first thing is to cut down significantly or completely eliminate your intake of caffeine. Keep in mind that caffeine is present not just in coffee and soda, but also tea, chocolate, cough medicines, and pain relief medicine.
Most people do not experience any significant symptoms from 300 mg or less of caffeine (about 3 cups of coffee), but especially sensitive people may experience the beginnings of caffeine panic attacks with as little as 200 mg of caffeine. If in doubt, give up caffeine.
Now, caffeine is mildly addictive, so you may end up being grumpy and agitated for about a week or so if you give it up completely, but this shouldn’t be anything you can’t handle.
If you suffer from an anxiety or panic disorder, it is probably a good idea to cut caffeine out of your diet. This removes one more variable that could be causing your problem and will generally lower the amount of stress your are experiencing. The fewer things there are aggravating your system, the more likely you will be able to get your anxiety under grips and be able to take back control of your life.
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