Caffeine is a psychoactive drug.
Psychoactive drugs affect the way a person thinks and feels—which may also affect the way they behave. The most commonly used legal psychoactive drugs, apart from drugs taken on prescription, are alcohol and tobacco. The most commonly used illegal psychoactive drug is cannabis (marijuana).
Some drugs fall into more than one category. For example, cannabis is both a depressant and hallucinogen, while ecstasy is a stimulant and hallucinogen.
Mid-March I stopped consuming coffee. I felt it was increasing my anxiety. I still drink tea sometimes but it does not seem to affect me as coffee did. I actually was not a coffee drinker until I moved to Montreal. So I have only been drinking in for about 6 years. Overall, I am not a super anxious person but caffeine made me into one. While preparing for exams or doing assignments for school I would drink A LOT of it to stay awake and focused and the consequence would be anxiety, stress, and irritability. I do still crave it from time to time, but I am quite happy to go without it!
For those who rely on caffeine for the boost here are ways to increase energy in other ways:
- Vitamin B12 and Ginseng are natural energy boosters (check with your doctor first to make sure these are right for you before using though).
- Ensure you are getting enough sleep. If your sleeping habits are decent and you are generally healthy, you likely don’t need caffeine for energy (here’s an article on Good Sleep Habits).
- Exercise can feel super tiring and exhausting if you’re just starting out, but once you get into a routine, exercise will actually give you MORE energy!
- Eat healthy. Cut out the junk and sugar that might be making you sluggish in the first place and replace these with healthy foods like lots of fruits and veggies (check out Dietitians of Canada for info on healthy eating).
- Water. Believe it or not, drinking water first thing in the morning (and throughout the day too) is a great energy booster. Your body wants it and needs it. And it’s really the healthiest drink for you (WebMD gives you 6 reasons to drink water).
- If you must have caffeine, maybe try limiting your intake. Instead of 3 coffees a day, have 1. Or instead of coffee, have tea.
Overall, I sleep very well. I have been exercising more, taking multivitamins and drinking much more water. There is still a lot of room for improvement here, I consume too much sugar and don’t exercise as often as I should. but I am on the right track. I want to try Ginseng too!
Here is a list put out by a coffee company on why coffee can make you anxious.
- Caffeine increases stress hormones.
Most people with anxiety would agree that they have a lot of weight on their shoulders. Caffeine adds to the burden. Similar to stress, caffeine increases heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of stress hormones. Caffeine -consumption can more than double your blood levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine.
- Caffeine affects neurotransmitter balance.
Caffeine often gives us a desirable feeling- increased motivation, productivity, and brainpower. This is a result of increased brain chemicals dopamine and acetylcholine. However, caffeine hinders the calming neurotransmitter GABA, which puts the brain activity on hold when needed. GABA is married to happiness and relaxation, so it’s no surprise that having a low GABA level can lead to anxiety and panic attacks.
- Caffeine causes insomnia.
If your mind is stuck in a never-ending marathon at night time, caffeine can contribute to this problem. Caffeine-induced sleep disorder is actually a recognized psychiatric disorder. Getting good sleep is essential to our brains since this is when metabolic debris and toxins are washed away and repaired into new brain cells. It’s important to keep in mind that any caffeine you consume, even 6 hours prior to bedtime can significantly disrupt your sleep.
- Caffeine is linked to psychiatric disorders.
Enough caffeine can create symptoms of anxiety in a healthy person that are indistinguishable from those experienced by anxiety disorder sufferers. Caffeine has also been linked to mental disorders including anxiety, panic, and depression, as well as sleep and eating disorders. Fact: In 1987, it was recommended that decaffeinated beverages should be provided in psychiatric wards. Taking schizophrenic patients off caffeine has actually been proven to help their anxiety, irritability, and hostility.
- Caffeine can increase anxiety when taken with many medications.
Caffeine is often consumed out of habit, making it an immense part of our daily life. That being said, it sometimes slips our mind that it’s a psychoactive drug and therefore, doesn’t mix well with other drugs. Check out drugs.com for a list of over 80 medications that should not be taken alongside caffeine. It is often added to over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers to make them more effective, however, it consequently increases the number of side effects in asthma medications, antidepressants, and some antibiotics.
I am not trying to scare anyone here. However, being the most consumed psychoactive drug, it is important to know about it and how it affects your health!