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  • Writer's pictureStacy G. Smith, MS, LPC

Overcoming Anxiety: Tip #28

I know, I know... Reducing or even eliminating (gulp!) caffeine is one of those tips that many individuals dislike hearing. I'm often met with, "How could I survive without my morning coffee?" or "I'll never make it through the day!"

While reducing or eliminating caffeine will not automatically cure anxiety, it can certainly produce a noticeable improvement in the physical effects you may experience - rapid heartbeat, muscle tremors, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping and concentrating. Not only is caffeine found in coffee, but in teas, sodas, chocolate, energy drinks, certain ice-creams and yogurts, and even power bars. That's not to mention over-the-counter medications, such as Excedrin.

While consuming caffeine-containing products in moderation may be okay for some, individuals may often consume far more than they are aware of - a large cup of coffee in the morning, one in the afternoon, some chocolate as a snack, a power bar before the gym, ice-cream for dessert... it all adds up. Do this everyday, and your caffeine levels remain consistently elevated.

Now, the effects of caffeine vary greatly from one person to the next. Some report consuming large amounts and feel little to no effect, while others begin to experience the jitters after a small cup of coffee. For someone with anxiety, however, who may already be on high alert, adding caffeine to the mix may be an unwise decision. An already pounding heart will begin to race faster, and you may have difficulty sitting still and concentrating. Couple this with negative and worrisome thoughts, and your day may appear 10x more challenging.

For anyone experiencing troublesome anxiety, I recommend you engage in a mini experiment for yourself.

  • Gradually reduce the amount of caffeine you consume, until you completely eliminate it from your diet (to the best of your knowledge). Maintain a full week with no caffeine, and notice the effects. Some may notice a night-and-day difference - and want to continue remaining caffeine-free, while others may report only a slight improvement in their anxiety, but not enough for them to completely eliminate caffeine long-term.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. I always like to say, "if an experiment can't make things worse, why not give it a shot?" And remember, caffeine isn't going anywhere. The coffee industry will still be around after your week-long hiatus, and you can resume your daily intake as usual. But keep in mind the "All-or-Nothing" thinking from Tip # 6. If you do notice some improvement in the physical aspects of your anxiety, you can always modify your caffeine intake, without eliminating it. Instead of consuming four cups daily, have two. Instead of all cups being caffeinated, try one cup decaf. See what works best for you.


DISCLAIMER: The blog posts shared on contain the opinions of Stacy Smith, MS, LPC, and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations or affiliates. While Stacy is a licensed mental health professional, all blog posts on her site are for informational purposes only, and are never a substitute for professional advice catered to your individual needs. Stacy Smith is not liable for any diagnosis, treatment plans, or decisions made based on the information presented on this website. Furthermore, commenting on posts does not mean a treatment relationship has been established with Stacy Smith.​

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