If you are a consumer of caffeine, and a panic attack or anxiety sufferer then you might consider this article an important one. For someone suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, caffeine’s effects include stimulation of the central nervous system (CNS); stimulation of cardiac muscle; the stimulatory effect on the heart can result in tachycardia at high doses.
You might be asking the question: is there really such a thing as caffeine panic attacks?
Four caffeine-related syndromes are recognised in DSM–IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994): caffeine intoxication; caffeine-induced anxiety disorder; caffeine-induced sleep disorder; and caffeine-related disorder not otherwise specified.
You might be able to consume caffeine in moderation but it’s important to become aware of all of the things that contain caffeine, such as the many different and the following caffeine levels,according to the Mayo Clinic:
brewed cup 8 oz of coffee: 95-200 mg
green tea: 14-40 mg
cola: 30-40 mg
black tea: 14-61 mg
energy drinks such as Red Bull: 80 mg
I used to drink at least 6-8 cups a day before I was really affected by panic disorder. At one point I gave up all coffee. Eventually after getting better I went back to about 2 cups a day. Two cups a day are fine for me. I find that by having 2 cups in the morning I can then transition to a cup of green tea later in the morning, then a cup of green tea in the afternoon, and one in the earlier evening. By filling any gaps between green tea and coffee time with drinking water, I find that I do quite well throughout the day. My energy levels are fine. There might be the odd day where I might have a little more caffeine through a diet cola or an additional cup of coffee but those days are rare.
Reducing your caffeine intake
I certainly don’t recommend that you quit caffeine “cold turkey” but that you gradually reduce your caffeine intake levels, if you are consuming high amounts. The Mayo Clinic indicates that if you are consuming more than 500 mg per day then you may want to cut down. However I would suggest that ultimately you have to determine your tolerance levels to caffeine are.
If you are tapering down your caffeine levels, you should remember that caffeine is a drug so you will likely go through some withdrawal symptoms when levels are reduced or cut out.
Withdrawal symptoms have been reported in both humans and animals. Such as: headache, irritability, sleeplessness, confusion, nausea, anxiety, restlessness and tremor, palpitations and raised blood pressure
But I’m sure that your motivation to recover from panic attacks is stronger and you can clearly see the benefits to cutting down your caffeine intake.
How do you kick the habit or reduce your amounts of coffee?
By doing these two things:
1. becoming aware of all your sources of caffeine, and
2. having an alternative such as green tea.
Why green tea?
Because it has caffeine too but not nearly as much as coffee. As mentioned while a brewed cup 8 oz of coffee has about 95-200 mg of caffine, while green tea has about 14-40 mg of caffeine only.
So what is the ultimate message about caffeine and panic attacks?
In sum, you should carry out an inventory of your caffeine levels and ensure you are not getting too much. Consider green tea if you still want to consider an alternative.
References (Caffeine Panic Attacks)
Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more. Mayo Clinic.
Retrieved January 28, 2013, from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/AN01211
Hardwick E., Jaberi, N. & Winston A., (2005). Neuropsychiatric effects of caffeine. advances in psychiatric treatment. 11, 432-439. doi: 10.1192/apt.11.6.432