While caffeine may help you stay alert in the short term, according to a mental health expert at Baylor College of Medicine, it is a well-known cause for excessive anxiety.
“Caffeine can trigger anxious reactions and sometimes even panic attacks because it tends to be overstimulating,” said Dr. Sanjay Mathew, associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor.
Many people do not tend to think about how caffeine is impacting their day-to-day moods, Mathew said. If a person is prone to panic attacks, caffeine can be quite a jolt, possibly triggering or contributing to an attack.
“Over the weekend, people don’t consume as much caffeine and may start experiencing headaches and anxiety, and it may be because they are having caffeine withdrawal,” he said.
It’s not unusual for people to consume four or five cups of caffeine per day or even five or six bottles of caffeinated beverages per day. People may forget that drinks such as Mountain Dew have significant amounts of caffeine in them.
While everyone metabolizes caffeine differently, Mathew says that a good rule of thumb for many is not to go above 200 milligrams of caffeine per day, and restrict use in the afternoons and evenings to avoid a negative impact on sleep.