Is Coffee Making Your Anxiety Worse?

For many, coffee is one of life’s simple pleasures. Just thinking about that hot cup of joe or that iced latte is enough to get some people out of bed in the morning. But for the 40 million Americans who live with an anxiety disorder, a daily caffeine habit could be taking a toll on their mental health.

That’s because the stimulant effects of caffeine, especially when consumed in higher amounts, can mimic or exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Think rapid heartbeat, restlessness, gastrointestinal upset and difficulty sleeping, said Mary Margaret Sweeney, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

In fact, research studies have used a moderate to high dose of caffeine “as a reliable way for experimenters to generate panic among persons with panic disorder, so that their symptoms can be studied in a safe and controlled setting,” Sweeney told HuffPost.

Reactions to caffeine vary widely from person to person. Some people can down a triple shot of espresso and lie down for a nap, while others would be on edge all day after doing the same. Generally, people with preexisting anxiety disorders tend to be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine.