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Caffeine Triggered Anxiety is real...

We've heard it before but it's official y'all. Your favorite morning (and early afternoon) drink may be contributing to your anxiety.


It's called "caffeine-induced anxiety disorder" (DSM- 5). This is a subcategory of anxiety disorders that is getting a lot more attention lately. It is triggered by regular caffeine use for an extended period of time. Those with this disorder will notice increased anxiety symptoms after consuming caffeine or reduced symptoms when avoiding it.

Common symptoms:

  • headaches

  • panic attacks

  • nervousness

  • insomnia

  • restlessness

  • sweating

  • "jittery" feeling

  • difficulty focusing


The risk of developing this disorder increases after only 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine in one day. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea (including the popular "tummy teas"), energy drinks, soda, pre-workout supplements and...unfortunately, dark chocolate.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 31 percent of U.S. adults will at some point in their lives experience an anxiety disorder.

This is what 400 mg of caffeine consists of:

Caffeine Type

= approx. 400 milligrams


4-5 cups (8 oz ea.)


Black Tea (9 cups), other teas (12 cups)

Energy Drink/ Pre-Workout

2 bottles


10 cans

Dark Chocolate

about 3 1/2, 3.5 oz bars

So, how can you find out if your anxiety could be triggered by caffeine? Well to start you'll need something to track the symptoms. If you don't have a journal, now would be a great time to finally go get one. Not only are journals a great way to process your days, you can use them to track symptoms and mood. Even if you don't have a diagnosis, it's very useful habit. More on that coming up soon. For now, you can track your daily anxiety levels (scale 1-10) and your daily mood. If you start to notice your anxiety level is higher on days that you consume more caffeine, there could be an issue. This is something you may want to discuss in the next session with your therapist or physician office visit.

In the meantime, the best way to decrease your risks is to stop drinking so much caffeine (or eating if you're a dark chocolate lover like myself). We all know that's easier said than done, so here a few helpful tips.

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks and food after 12 pm.

  • Try decaf coffee or tea instead of your usual choice.

  • Make it a priority to get enough GOOD sleep so that you can be less dependent on caffeine in the mornings.

  • If you have low energy, check with your physician to see if there are any underlying medical causes. Low iron, hormonal imbalances, and dehydration can cause fatigue.

You don't have to avoid caffeine entirely, just be mindful of your consumption and the way it affects YOU (because everyone is different and lower levels may have similar impacts for some).

Stay on the look out for more blog posts. This is the start of something great ;)

The Atlanta Therapist


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