March 13, 2019

An Experiment with Caffeine and Anxiety (and Wednesday Weigh-In)

Quitting Caffeine and a Wednesday Weigh-In

I was laughing while trying to take this photo because Estelle, once again, insisted on appearing in the picture ;)

With my anxiety having been SO bad for the last few weeks, I was getting really desperate to figure out what was different or what I could change to help manage it. The major change I made recently was to quit drinking, and that was on January 1st.

As I thought about it, I realized that I had started drinking coffee at around that time--I would have one cup in the morning (well, I guess it would be considered two cups, but it was one large mug). I don't know why I started drinking it every day, because I don't love coffee. I was totally fine not drinking it, so it was kind of dumb to start.

Then, I added another mug of coffee in the afternoon every day. I did that because that time of day is when I generally start feeling drained and I wanted a "pick-me-up". It became a daily habit to have coffee in the morning and in the afternoon. Coffee is a pretty innocent vice, so I didn't think that much of it.

However, I know that coffee can increase anxiety. My anxiety was horrible, but I honestly didn't think that the coffee could be the culprit. I was desperate, though, so I decided to try quitting the coffee cold turkey and see if I noticed a difference. (I could have switched to decaf, but like I said, I don't love coffee, so it wasn't really the taste that I wanted; it was the caffeine.)

I probably should have weened off of it, but we all know that I tend to go extreme when I do things, hahaha. Also, I figured that cutting it out completely would be the fastest and easiest way to see if it was the cause of my anxiety (or at least contributing to it).

My last day drinking coffee was Friday, so on Saturday I didn't have any. And surprisingly, I didn't get a bad headache like I was expecting.

Until Sunday. Holy cow, my head was killing me from not having caffeine. When I made the decision to quit, I expected the caffeine headache, so even though it wasn't fun, I dealt with it. And I also discovered that the coffee was playing a HUGE role in my anxiety! I felt much better (mentally) on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. In the beginning, I really didn't have hope that quitting coffee would help, but the difference was very notable.

Yesterday, my headache was so bad in the afternoon and I'd had a stressful/busy day (Noah fainted on Monday evening, which I'll explain later) and I decided on a whim to make a cup of coffee to simply get rid of the headache. And it worked--my head was much better--but almost instantly, my anxiety rose high. A couple of hours later, I was near panic. My heart was racing and it was hard to breathe.
And it lasted all evening.

I'm really glad that I experimented with it, because it definitely helps to know why my anxiety skyrocketed recently, and quitting coffee/caffeine is an easy fix. If I get a headache today (as I type this, it's only 8:30 AM, and so far, no headache) then I will have no problem dealing with it, simply because I know that my anxiety will be kept at bay. I still feel some depression, but it's gotten better now that the anxiety doesn't accompany it!

Instead of coffee in the mornings, I've been making a cup of chai with a touch of honey and heavy cream (like a chai latte, but less calories). I like the taste better than coffee, and there is very little caffeine in it. Next time I buy the chai, I will get the decaf kind so it won't have any caffeine at all.

Because of my decreased anxiety this week, my appetite was back up. Not excessively, but back to a "normal" level. Last week, my weight had dropped almost five pounds from the week before because I just didn't have much of an appetite. I've been weighing during the week, so I wasn't surprised to see that I didn't have a loss on the scale today:

Wednesday Weigh-In

I was at 161.2 today, which is up 1.8 from last week. I'm not going to lie--I was disappointed not to stay in the 150's--but I know that I didn't eat excessively, so I'm okay with it. I'm still down three pounds from a couple of weeks ago. And now, hopefully I can get back into a good schedule with my eating instead of picking at my food like I did the week before due to the anxiety.

Anyway, about Noah... on Monday evening, Jerry, Eli, and I were in the living room and we were going to watch a show together. Noah was sitting at the countertop behind me, and I asked him if he wanted to come watch with us. I didn't see it, but I heard him fall, and I turned just in time to see him land hard on his butt with his back against the wall.

I thought he'd just slipped as he was standing up, and I said, "What happened?" No response. "Are you okay?" Nothing. Sheer panic--"Noah, answer me right now! Are you okay?!" I was getting up to go check on him, and Jerry jumped up and went over to him. Noah seemed like he was in a daze as Jerry helped him up.

With my own horrid history of fainting, I was really worried and I started drilling him with questions to find out if he'd just fallen or if he fainted. He said that the last thing he remembered was rising to stand up from the chair; and then the next thing he knew, Jerry was standing over him. The whole thing only lasted about five seconds, but it felt like a lot longer.

Noah was only worried about his tailbone--he'd landed really hard on it (it was loud when he hit the floor), and he was in a lot of pain. Thankfully, he didn't hit his head! (Or break his jaw...) There really isn't anything that you can do about a tailbone, even if it's broken, so I didn't think it was necessary to take him to the emergency room. I did, however, call the doctor first thing in the morning yesterday and they were able to see him at noon.

The doctor really didn't see an obvious cause for the incident (Noah had just eaten dinner, he wasn't sitting for a long time before standing, his blood pressure was good). She did some blood work to be safe, but we likely won't know why it happened. His tailbone is still very sore, but other than that, he seems to be okay.

Last night, Jerry, the kids, and I went for a walk in the neighborhood, which is something that we used to do almost every night. We didn't go far--just about a mile--but the kids said they'd like to start doing that every day again. I miss doing it, too. If it's dark, we put on headlamps and carry flashlights. We take Joey, of course, who loves it! It'll be a nice habit to get back into.

Hoping for a good week! (Mentally and physically)


  1. Interesting experiment! I may have to cut out the caffeine! I've never heard this correlation before!

    What a scary incident with Noah! As much as it stinks to not know the cause I hope he continues to be ok!

    1. I had heard of caffeine contributing to anxiety, but I honestly did not think that it would make such a big difference to cut out the caffeine. It's a relief!

  2. i know you said you prefer the taste of your tea anyway, but if you like coffee you can drink decaf. yes, it has a bit of caffeine in it like all decaf products, but MUCH less than regular coffee. i often drink a cup of decaf in the afternoon - it helps curb my sweet tooth and seems to give me psychological energy

    1. I may do that from time to time. I like iced coffee more than hot coffee, so I'll definitely do that in the summer!

  3. How do your mirror selfies always turn out so cute?! I always look like I'm concentrating way to hard at the act at hand :) I'm glad you might have found a solution to decreasing your anxiety! But I know how bad those caffeine headaches can get :( They get better soon though! Chai tea is great, that's an awesome solution!

    Scary about Noah, I'm glad he's feeling okay! Sometimes I think fainting is just one of those freak things.

    1. That's so funny, because I always feel like I look like I'm concentrating too hard! Estelle was making me laugh, though, because she waves in and out between my legs while I stand there, so I pretty much can't get a selfie without her. If I lock her out of the bathroom, she bangs on the door until I open it! She has me trained well ;)

  4. I have 22 and 32 year old sons. Both of them at some point as teenagers, in the house, nothing special going on, got up from the kitchen table and passed out. No explanation, nothing wrong, just passed out. Maybe it's a growth thing...I hope he's ok and I only tell you this so you won't worry too much...

    1. That's actually very reassuring... thank you for telling me that! It's pretty much what the doctor said, too, but you know how all the worst thoughts go through your head when it comes to something like that happening to your kids. It was just so unexpected and odd that it happened!

  5. It is funny easily we overlook something so normal everyday. My mom regularly drinks coffee right before bed then complains she can't sleep. (?!?) Glad you were able to identify part of the anxiety culprit. Something similar happened with my bf though not quite as severe. Now he a special occasional coffee, mostly herbal tea drinker now.

    However, I was reading while caffeine levels in tea and coffee (dry weight) are similar, tannins in the tea lower the absorption rate. If you still need a caffeine kick (who doesn't from time to time), I really like matcha - caffeine absorption is supposed to be longer and slower. Yes, is pricey ($20 - $30+/oz ceremonial grade) but a little goes a long way and the cheaper (culinary grade) stuff tends to have an off putting seaweed taste. Mixed with milk/mylk and you can get away with the less premium stuff if your priority is the caffeine.

    Hopefully Noah is okay and it was just a weird, one off. Take care!

    1. I don't think I've ever tried matcha. I don't mind paying more for something I really like (especially since quitting alcohol--I'm saving quite a bit on wine! haha). Maybe I will try it at a coffee shop or something before buying. I've heard it has a "seaweed" taste, but maybe that is just the lower quality stuff. Thanks for the info!

  6. Caffeine really amps up my anxiety too. Even if I just have a caffeinated soda during the day, when I go to bed, my heart starts racing and keeps me from sleeping. I also found out hormonal birth control amps up my anxiety. I avoid both these days and am much less anxious.

    1. It's interesting just how much of a difference it made to cut out the caffeine! Definitely worth it to get rid of the anxiety.

  7. I can imagine your concern about poor Noah--hopefully all is good and there are no future issues!

    I'm a coffee addict, I'll admit, but I make it a rule that I only have one (big) cup, and that's it for the day. I also won't drink it after if I get up late (a rare occurrence anyway), I won't have it at all, because then I can't sleep! :o

    I've had those weeks of BIG losses followed by little gains despite the fact that nothing else changed. Hang in there!

  8. I dislocated my tailbone from my hip bone once during roller derby. IT WAS AWFUL. Tell Noah that walking helps. It hurts but it really helped me heal faster.

    I noticed the same with caffeine and my anxiety but I am lucky in that I hate coffee LOL

  9. Wow! I'm so glad you know the culprit and can eliminate it! Great news. So sorry to hear about Noah. Hugs to you and your family.

  10. How smart of you to experiment with cutting caffeine! And hooray for it helping your anxiety! Caffeine is also a known appetite suppressant so it's not surprising that your appetite was up a bit. Hopefully it balances out soon.


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