Does Quitting Caffeine Help Anxiety?
Does quitting caffeine help anxiety? And if it does, how much of a difference would it make to somebody with low-level, sporadic anxiety?
I’ve always had anxiety in one way or another, but I’ve found it affects different areas of my life at different times. Years ago, I remember being an extremely nervous passenger. I thought that every time I got in a car with somebody we were going to crash and I was going to die. It was horrendous. Weirdly these days being a passenger doesn’t bother me at all, but instead I get anxiety over other things that didn’t bother me back then. Anxiety is strange like that, it swaps and changes. It’s always one step ahead.
Dietary causes of anxiety
I know certain things encourage and cause anxiety, such as drinking alcohol on a regular basis (guilty 🙋🏼♀️) and taking in a lot of caffeine (um, also guilty). Which is why I’m trying to eliminate certain things from my lifestyle to see if I can reduce how often I feel anxious.
Since realising that caffeine could be a cause of my anxiety, I have noticed that I can feel completely different from one day to the next. This to me suggests that some kind of daily variable like caffeine (or alcohol, for that matter) could be causing the issue. It would certainly explain why somedays I feel great and on others I feel on edge.
Tom has cut caffeine from his diet recently for separate reasons and I figured why not join him for a little experiment. I wanted to find out for myself, would quitting caffeine help anxiety?
Switching to decaf
I picked up some decaf teabags last weekend and have been slowly weening myself off the hard stuff. I’ll be honest, I can take or leave coffee but I can’t image my life without tea. Quite literally the first thing I do in the morning is make a brew. Although I am more than willing to switch to decaf if it’s going to help me feel better (even if it does taste a little different).
I’m one of those people who like to Google pretty much everything and before I decided to cut anything out of my diet I wanted to research the links between caffeinated drinks and feeling anxious. Unsurprisingly, there is a huge connection between those suffering with low to high levels of anxiety and those that drink lot of tea or coffee. Many people claim that cutting out caffeine was the best thing they ever did for their mental health and that their anxiety disappeared after 2 weeks of being caffeine free. I found similar reports from those that cut out alcohol too, although I do love my wine so maybe I won’t cut that out just yet…
Reading other people’s stories really opened my eyes because I’ve never really thought that caffeine could be the cause. For me, I always assumed it was hereditary or simply just the way I’m wired up.
I usually drink around 4 cups of tea per day and sometimes I’ll have the odd cup of coffee. That’s 192-249mg of caffeine per day, and although according to the Mayo Clinic it’s safe to consume up too 400mg per day – I still feel like it’s a lot. Cutting it out completely can only help, right?
One week in
Up until now I’ve managed to ween myself down to 1 caffeinated cup of tea per day (the first one of the day, of course 😉) and the rest of the time I’ve been drinking Tetley’s decaf tea. The first few days were tough, although not as tough as I thought they would be. I felt unbelievably tired starting work having only had one cup of tea and I noticed a slight caffeine withdrawal headache for the first few days. But both have near enough subsided now.
It’s too early to say whether I feel less anxious as I’m only on day 7 out of 14, plus I haven’t completely cut caffeine out yet – that comes tomorrow – but I’m eager to see if it helps!