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Can Caffeine Make Anxiety Worse?

Monday, November 1st 2021 10:00am 4 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

What does caffeine do to your body? A recent review of the literature reports on the many effects that caffeine can have on you. A key mechanism of action is to block adenosine receptors, which results in an increase in dopamine, glutamate, and noradrenalin. It effects your cardiovascular system by increasing the blood pressure and heart rate. And, it can improve motor activity and alertness by working on the central nervous system. However, higher does can produce symptoms of anxiety.

Studies also show that the adenosine receptor genes have a role in producing anxiety. The evidence suggests that some people may have a higher risk of anxiety disorders and that caffeine may make them more susceptible.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, recognizes caffeine-induced anxiety disorder as a condition in which caffeine interferes with daily functioning. To meet the criteria for this diagnosis, a person must have symptoms of anxiety directly caused by the consumption of caffeine.

The DSM-5 has also proposed criteria for caffeine use disorder, in which all three of the following criteria must be met:

  • symptoms of caffeine withdrawal
  • persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to control caffeine use
  • use of caffeine despite harm

Although this is not yet an official DSM diagnosis, it provides researchers with a framework to conduct further studies.

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