Does Caffeine Consumption Cause Anxiety?

It is often reported that tea and coffee are able to trigger anxious symptoms in certain people. However, this anecdotal evidence is not supported by studies that have investigated the effects of caffeine, coffee and tea on the symptoms of anxiety. For example in one study, researchers used a detailed examination of a large scale nutritional study that was performed on thousands of individuals. From this they reported that there was no association between the consumption of tea and coffee with symptoms of anxiety. In fact other studies have reported that tea may be beneficial at protecting from the development of anxiety and coffee may be beneficial at protecting from the development of depression. One possibility is that caffeine itself is not the cause of anxiety, but that withdrawal of caffeine leads to brain changes that worsen any already anxious feelings. General advice is that in sensitive individuals who feel that caffeine worsens any symptoms of anxiety, moderation or cessation is likely the best solution.

caffeine anxiety depression

It should be remembered that not all caffeine sources are the same. Soft drinks for example may be a cause of anxiety not because of the caffeine they contain, but because of the sugar they contain. Also, instant coffee is not nutritionally the same as filter coffee, and instant coffee may not provide the same levels of beneficial protective phytochemicals as filter coffee. Some individuals also drink tea and coffee with sugar, which may actually be the cause of any anxious symptoms. Therefore a certain degree of care and common sense needs to be applied to caffeinated drinks consumption if it is felt that there may be some connection to anxiety.

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Eaton, W. W. and McLeod, J. 1984. Consumption of coffee or tea and symptoms of anxiety. American Journal of Public Health. 74(1): 66-68

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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