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Does Caffeine Really Affect Anxiety Levels?

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Hey y'all. So this week we are covering a question from one of our listeners, Ms. Brittany, and I'm just gonna read that off for you. Does drinking coffee or caffeine really cause you to have problems with anxiety levels or does it have more to do with how much you drink? For example, does a small dose of caffeine affect anxiety?

Thank you, Brittany, for such a great question. And funny thing is we would've had this episode out a lot sooner, but somehow it disappeared into the ether. We don't know where it went. We look for it. Well, Mom and Kayti looked for it forever, but it just disappeared. So we are re-recording this episode this week, and we are going over just caffeine.

How much is too much? When is the best time to drink it? Should you drink it at all? So yeah. Mom, what are your thoughts?

Well, it is a great question, Brittany. Thank you so much for participating in that too. It's so great to have input from listeners to see what you guys actually are interested in hearing about.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and consuming too much can lead to symptoms of anxiety, and it can even lead to a condition called caffeine-induced anxiety disorder. In itself, I think it's hard to answer that because some people can handle caffeine better than other people. Genetically, some people are able to tolerate it, and then, of course, depending on your nutritional background, how you take care of yourself. Sometimes people are able to handle a smaller amount or a larger amount. Technically, it is classified as a brain stimulant and a psychoactive drug. If you actually look up the classification, so that puts it in a little bit of a different category. I think when we say it that way.

I've never even thought of it that way, to be honest. I drank a lot of caffeine, especially in the past. I'm actually one week sober from caffeine. When we recorded this episode the first time I was struggling really hard.

It was my first day without caffeine, and it was all I could do to keep my eyes open and I had a splitting headache. And I was just trying to be a nice person, but it was just not going well. So it's a good thing we're re-recording this. But anyways, I feel amazing. I've had zero panic attacks this week.

It has been so great. So one week on decaf coffee and mushroom coffee, and dandy blend, and lots of coffee creamer. So I may be drinking more coffee creamer than usual to cover up the taste that I'm missing from the caffeine and the coffee. But, It's great. It's awesome. So I feel much better than I did a few weeks ago.

Do you feel like now that you haven't been having it, that maybe it was adding to anxiety for you?

Yes, and I kept telling myself, I'm like, it's not the caffeine. I just wanted to keep drinking this because if I didn't get that little zip of energy when I'm at work, I just love that zip of energy, that wonderful feeling of just being able to go, go, go. But, Ugh, the crash is not worth it.

The exhaustion, barely keeping my eyes open on my drive home. I have had sustained energy all day, just drinking like really mild teas, non-caffeine teas, and a lot of Dandy Blend. That's been my favorite go-to, which is, I know I've said it like three times, but it's a, it's a coffee substitute and it's made out of chicory root and dandelions, and it is the best for detoxing your liver, sustained energy and just overall, it's just a wonderful hot drink to have with some half and half, maybe a little coffee creamer or just plain. It's delicious and really has a great sweet flavor.

It's so funny that you say that you didn't want it to be the caffeine. And I think I went through the same thing when I dealt with this probably two years ago now, I was in the middle of all of my anxiety and had really eliminated everything else.

I had been doing some supplementation, and I felt like I was managing it, okay. But pretty much every day I was dealing with anxiety, even though the panic attacks weren't happening as often, and the coffee was the only thing I was getting caffeine in. You know, coffee's really hard because there's more to drinking coffee than just having the flavor.

It's about the ritual of drinking coffee and the fellowship of drinking it with your husband or with your friends and it's a very community-based drink. I didn't want it to be coffee, like I wanted it to be something else, but for me, I had an experience where I literally just said, okay, Lord, if you'll show me what it is that's causing this, like I've done everything else, then I'll listen and I literally went downstairs like I always did, made my cup of coffee. I had one sip of it, literally one sip of it, and immediately my heart started racing and I thought, it's the coffee. And then I was like, it's the coffee! And you know, I thought, oh no. That's when I realized that. Oh my goodness. I've been drinking coffee for a long time and I drank quite a bit of it.

I started out not drinking it till I was like 39, and then finally started drinking it and just kind of drank more and more. And that was the day that I decided, okay, that was kind of my deal. I said, if you'll show me what it is, what the trigger is, I'll stop. And I pushed the cup back and decided it's not worth it for me.

And that was just how my body was dealing with caffeine. It was inducing a panic attack. You know, reading the list of symptoms that are textbook for caffeine-induced anxiety is actually increased heart rate, sweating, palpitations, excessive worry, feelings of fear, insomnia, restlessness, nausea, dizziness, and dehydration.

And if you read that list of symptoms, You can put it beside just anxiety symptoms and it's the same exact list. I'm not sure that the caffeine was every part of mine. I actually don't think it was, I think it just became a trigger for me, and that perfect storm was brewing, and so then the caffeine was making it worse.

I think genetically, people are able to handle caffeine differently. Yeah, and there's a lot of different factors, and some people actually have an opposite effect. When they drink caffeine, they feel like it almost makes them sleepy. Cassie's like that. Where she drinks, which is my other daughter, you know that, but they don't.

But she drinks caffeine and she can take a nap, like go to sleep. I would love if that was how coffee affected me, or caffeine, but it's just not. And getting off caffeine for me was really hard too. I had a headache for about four days that was really not going away no matter what I did. And that's when I realized that I had told myself, caffeine doesn't affect me. It's not the coffee, it doesn't have anything to do with that. And I just didn't wanna accept it. But after going off of it for a few days, I realized that wow, it really was affecting me. And honestly, I didn't have any more panic attacks after that on the regular at all. When I realized how much better I felt, it was much easier to just say, Hey, it's totally not worth doing that.

There's some studies that show if you consume 200 milligrams of caffeine, which is the amount in about two small cups of coffee, and I think we have to define cups. I have some really big cups in quotes, and then I have normal cups, but a cup of coffee is six ounce. So 12 ounces of coffee has 200 milligrams of caffeine, and just that amount actually increases the likelihood of anxiety and panic attacks.

So if you're not having it in coffee, maybe you're getting that much caffeine or more in sodas or in other kind of drinks. And hopefully, if you have anxiety, you're not hitting the Red Bulls or the Monsters, that would be like a nightmare for me. I would be running laps around the moon if I had one of those, but it's not the kind of energy that you can use to do anything productive. It's that jitteryness.

Yeah. It's hard for me to focus, even though caffeine's supposed to induce focus.

Yeah. And I think it's just, the perfect storm scenario again, and I know I said that a minute ago, but each person individually has a different threshold for what they can handle as far as caffeine and for me, I still don't have caffeine. It's been almost three years, and I do have an organic decaf coffee that I can have now, but honestly, for a year I tried to have decaf at different times after that, and it would do the same thing to me because there is a residual amount of caffeine in decaf coffee or decaffeinated tea, that was enough for me that I was so sensitive to it would trigger anxiety. I get a Swiss water process decaf, which is Gorilla Cafe. I'll put it in the notes below. And it's just a really good coffee because it honestly tastes like coffee instead of decaf because my thing with decaf coffee was it tastes like water.

There's no point. It's not even the same thing. But this, I serve to company and at family dinners, and these are people who drink regular coffee and they honestly don't believe me when I tell them it's decaf. So it's a really good stand-in. So I recommend that not because I think decaf across the board is good, but because I think this one is a really exceptionally good one.

And if you get a Swiss water process coffee over regular decaf. The process is done with water and it's a slow process, so it costs a little more to get those coffees, but you're also not getting any chemicals in the coffee. They do a lot to extract caffeine from coffee beans or from tea leaves, and it doesn't separate easily. So they actually end up using a chemical called methylene chloride, and it's actually an industrial solvent that is used as a paint stripper.

So that may be worse than the caffeine for sure, but if you choose organic decafs, it's supposed to mean that they do not use chemical solvents. But I still kind of stay away from that and just go with only a Swiss water process.

And believe me, I scoured the internet for a decaf coffee that was Swiss water processed and this particular one was the only one I found that was actually organic and had that Swiss water process in it, so it's really good. And that way you don't really miss it. It has about 1% caffeine residually remaining in it, where normal decaf can have up to 10%.

My body knows the difference in those. And so if I'm out. I usually don't even get a decaf coffee out unless I know that I can kind of make sure that it's a good decaf and I don't drink, but maybe a fourth of the cup because that's the only way that I feel like it's not gonna be too much caffeine. And there are some good alternatives as far as like, I know you've drank like the mushroom coffee.

Oh yes. The brand is Four Sigmatic, that and Dandy Blend are like honestly the best and the most affordable coffee substitutes for me. And then of course, this Swiss water processed coffee, the decaf is wonderful.

Yeah, I really like the Dandy Blend, and I used that for probably the first year.

Yeah, it's very mild. And if you don't want to consume like cordyceps mushrooms or lion's mane mushrooms, you'd just rather have Dandy Blend. That's great. But there's so many great health benefits in four Sigmatic coffee, the mushroom coffee, the lion's mane and the cordyceps. I mean, you could go on all day about the benefits of those mushrooms.

And are they actually helpful to get off caffeine in that they're adaptogenic or are those the ones that...

Yes, they create sustainable energy and lions pain is really good for rewiring the neurons in your brain. So if you have an addiction to something like nicotine or caffeine or alcohol, it can actually recalibrate your brain in a period of a few months of taking lions mane can recalibrate everything and kind of like reset you and make you not crave addictions as much or even not at all.

So that's really great to have something where you're actually...

Yeah, it's really good to have that extra little bit of energy. Something to help you, especially when you're trying to get off caffeine, cuz it's. It is such a pain.

I know with clients it's really hard, and I remember about day two of coming off caffeine that I thought, I don't know if I can do this, cause I felt so bad. But then by the third day I felt better, but I still had the headache. And then by the fourth day I was like, wow, I felt like so much better, and my energy returned.

I don't feel like a lot of clients have that. They really realize how much caffeine was helping them when they stopped drinking it. And that conversation we have sometimes is interesting because we'll be in a consultation and I'll say, let's do some non-negotiable things. Let's get rid of caffeine because it may be.

Adding to the problem and they usually say, that's fine. I don't have a problem with caffeine. It doesn't help me anyway. And then I'll get a call from 'em about three days in of not having it. And they're like, okay, I take it back the caffeine really was helping me and I have no energy, and that's when I'll recommend.

L-Tyrosine is a really good amino acid that can be used when you're trying to get off of caffeine or stimulants, you can actually use that as a stand-in because it's kind of like the lion's main mushroom would be, it provides some sustainable energy, but not in a stimulant type way. And so using an amino acid during that interim, or even using it in the mornings as a source of energy.

And what's cool about amino acids is if you take those properly and you don't take too much, they actually give you such a great energy because it's not jittery or the nervous kind. It's actually productive energy. So there are things that you can do to wean yourself off is one approach to kind of start cutting back the full strength coffee with half and half and decaf, half and half coffee that way, or half and half.

So we're not hating on your coffee habit. We are honestly just trying to give you some ideas and some advice when it comes to anxiety or any of these other symptoms. If you are struggling with any of these symptoms, you might want to try to eliminate caffeine just for a few days, maybe a week or two, just to see how it affects your body, and who knows, it might actually help.

Interesting that you say that. I think the trial and error sometimes because we've talked about in the other episodes, that defining what the triggers are to anxiety is different for everyone, but it's a ruling out process often. And I know I say that a lot, but for me it was like, I can give this up if it would give me peace in a sense of feeling normal again.

And for me, it really did help and I found that it helps so many clients. If I'm dealing with a client who's having anxiety, just know right off the top, we're gonna take caffeine out because we're trying to eliminate all the triggers, and then sometimes we add it back in. Then you really notice the difference, and then you decide if you can handle it.

There's some interesting research about caffeine. It actually prevents the neurotransmitter Adena scene from telling your body that you're tired. So it actually. Blocks that response, which is why people feel like they have energy, but it's not necessarily that they're energetic as much as it's just blocking that receptor.

But your brain also has the ability to anticipate when the effects of caffeine are coming, which I thought was amazing because if you're in a habitual coffee drinker, Supplying your body with smooth roasted goodness at the same times each day, your body knows it's coming and actually prepares to counteract the effects of it which amazing how the brain basically prepares for that.

Even the smell of coffee or the sound of the coffee maker can trigger your body to regulate that response of adenosine. So it actually is habitual habit forming in that way because the brain is actually preparing for this stimulant to come in and it knows the response that it's supposed to have, which is pretty interesting and just a little bit weird too.

I mean, I know I fantasize about coffee at night and have it the next morning.

'This conditioning. I mean, it can happen with anything in our lives that become ritual or routine, but I think it's important to weigh out our rituals and our routines and say, okay, is this really beneficial?

I really like doing this, but is it helping me or hurting me? You're only gonna know that if you take a break from it and then add it back in, and I usually say like, you did it. I say at least a week. A week is enough time for everything to kind of clear out of the liver. And depending on how someone's liver processes, sometimes it takes longer to get rid of caffeine.

And so you're still getting some residual effects. But if you can just get off of it for a week or so and really assess and see how you're doing. And for me it was life-changing. It was another one of those things like my magnesium that I brought in where I'm like, you know what? This is totally worth, you know, not having.

So if you wanna try it, you can start weaning off or you can just stop. Of course, this is completely up to you. Not meant to be medical advice, but if you seriously wanna get your anxiety under control, isn't it worth trying?

It certainly is. I loved caffeine because it helped me stay fuller longer in the mornings so I could eat just like a handful of nuts or nothing at all and drink a huge tub of coffee, like massive, and it would keep me sustained until like one, two o'clock in the middle of the day during my eating disorder I used it to cut back on calories. And cut out extra meals and snacks. So I would drink caffeine replacement of food.

That happens a lot with people in general where you skip breakfast, and you just have coffee, and it is kind of a filler like that and it gets you through.

Yeah. And if it's sweet and sugary, it's even better cuz you've got that little pep of sugar and it's all you need.

Yeah. And caffeine on an empty stomach actually affects people more than it does when you have food with it, because there isn't anything to slow down the caffeine in the digestive process. So the liver really picks it up. There isn't anything kind of mixed in. So a lot of times if people are having anxiety early in the day, it's usually because they're having caffeine on an empty stomach.

That's something good to know too, that maybe you can have a little bit of caffeine. You just need to have it with a meal. Thank you guys so much for listening. It's been great to have this question come in, and I hope you guys will post some more so that we can talk about them on the next episode.

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