• Theo

Does coffee make anxiety worse?

When I was younger, I always used to watch adults drinking coffee and seeming really happy. It’s the social norm to go to a cafe with friends and have a coffee and a catch up so when I decided I was going to do the same with my friends, I was so excited. It sounds sad, I know, but it’s the little joys that add up to make a big difference.

I would meet my friends regularly, go to Costa and have a coffee. It was a new Costa cafe that opened up locally and in a great spot so it was the best place for us to meet. The thing was, it started to affect me negatively. I used to get anxious in cafes anyway, so initially I put it down to having a bad day until the pattern became persistent. I would drink the coffee, and about ten minutes later, I would feel really anxious for an hour or so afterwards. That then escalated to feeling anxious for a few hours afterwards. I continued to insist on drinking coffee with friends as it was associated with something positive but then after drinking the coffee, not only was I anxious, I was dizzy but that didn’t stop me. I continued drinking coffee and then along with existing effects, I would start experiencing nausea. The nausea started to last a few minutes, then an hour, then a few hours and then the once, it lasted an entire day. It was awful.

That day, I started the day feeling fine, drank coffee and a few minutes later, I felt anxious and then shortly after that it was accompanied by nausea. I told my friend I had to go home and I assumed I would feel better at home but that wasn’t the case. I went to bed and couldn’t do anything for the rest of the day. That was the last time I went out for coffee. I finally realised that it wasn’t worth it. I could have something else at the cafe and then I would still be able to function like a normal human being afterwards.

Caffeine is a stimulant and if you suffer from anxiety, that is something you should avoid. Drinking coffee will only increase your anxiety as it provides a rush to your brain and in doing so, it may be more prone to scanning for threats. If you suffer from anxiety, you should try to drink herbal teas or water. Avoiding sugary drinks is also advised as they cause that sugar rush which again, can leave you feeling more anxious.

An interesting point to make though is that ice coffees don’t affect me as badly. When going to a Starbucks, I’ll have a mocha Frappuccino as it doesn’t have that much caffeine in it and a good chunk of it is ice. It’s about finding which drinks work for you but it’s safe to say anxiety and coffee’s do not mix!

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