Is It Time to Ditch Caffeine? Part I: Weigh the Pros and Cons
I stopped drinking caffeinated beverages a few months before I graduated from college. After years of drinking one coffee and at least two or three sodas per day in the school cafeteria, I quit cold turkey. (And I wouldn’t recommend this method of quitting to anyone!)
And then, I enjoyed two weeks of tension headaches and constant sleepiness. I was a groggy-eyed wreck. My dorm room bed was my new best friend.
But when the withdrawal effects wore off, I was a new person. My overall anxiety level decreased, I had a more steady level of energy throughout the day, and it became easier to fall asleep (and stay asleep) at night.
Of course, I was a little slower to wake up in the morning. And, on some afternoons after class, I would fiercely need a nap. But that’s okay. I was (and still am) content with that. When practical, I prefer listening to my body (by napping) over fighting against my body (by stuffing it with caffeine until I feel energized again).
Are you thinking about kicking the caffeine habit? Are you trying to figure out when and how you’ll attempt it? Take a look at some of the possible pros and cons of quitting below.
- Better sleep at night
- Fewer (and less drastic) peaks and valleys in your daily energy level
- A decrease in disconcerting physiological symptoms, like rapid heart beat, the jitters, or palpitations
- A decrease in overall anxiety level (and even panic attacks)
- Temporary (but perhaps distressing) sleepiness and headaches
- Needing to change your schedule or routine around for productivity
- Feeling as if you’re making a sacrifice
- Having an increased sensitivity to caffeine in the future
I’ve since started drinking caffeine again, but only in moderate amounts. In fact — and this might sound like it’s coming out of left field — I think that drinking a little caffeine now and again is a good thing for panic sufferers. Here’s why: if you avoid caffeine altogether, then caffeine becomes synonymous with all of the other panic triggers that you might avoid. It becomes like the supermarket or like public speaking. It becomes like public transit. It becomes like exercising or trying new things or anything else that might make you panic.
Avoiding caffeine altogether can increase its threat level. Avoiding it inflates the danger of consuming it. I avoided it for nearly three years and, as a result, became afraid of it and of its effects. I shook with anticipatory anxiety when I finally broke my caffeine fast two years ago, even as I took the very first sips, well before the caffeine had produced a physiological change in my body.
How do I monitor my caffeine consumption now? By the numbers. Stay tuned for my next post to discover exactly how much caffeine is in your (and my) favorite beverages…and the maximum limit to which those of us with anxiety disorders ought to be adhering!
Beretsky, S. (2011). Is It Time to Ditch Caffeine? Part I: Weigh the Pros and Cons. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 26, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/panic/2011/11/is-it-time-to-ditch-caffeine-part-i-weigh-the-pros-and-cons/