Whenever I feel myself getting stressed or anxious, one of the first things I like to do is get a cup of coffee. This is initially all I need to calm down. My level of attentiveness shoots up and my productivity increases dramatically. Unfortunately, this boost in energy and alertness comes with a major downside, the big increase in stress hormones such as cortisol. This coupled with the blocking of happiness hormone production tends to actually lead to an increase in my anxiety. The big issue is that when my anxiety levels increase, all I want to do is to drink more coffee, further fuelling these issues.
Scientifically speaking, there are studies that support this. The effects of caffeine on people with anxiety and depression have long been studied. There is evidence that in small amounts caffeine can be of benefit to those with these conditions. In larger quantities it can have the opposite effect, blocking the production of happy hormones and increasing the production of stress hormones. The issue I have is that caffeine doesn’t appear to be the problem for me, I can happily drink green tea all day without issue.
It took me a long time to work out that coffee, alone, as a beverage was the thing that was fuelling my problems. Despite now knowing this, I still have the problem because I cannot easily escape my dependence on coffee. Tea does not provide the same calming effect for me, even though I also don’t get the negative effects. All in all, I need to find a middle ground, it would be foolish to think I can completely give up coffee, but for my mental state, I need to try and cut back.