Anxiety Disorders and related conditions arise from problems in how people see the world and in how their minds and bodies communicate. As a result, few problems related to chronic feelings of anxiety or anxiety attacks can be resolved by diet and lifestyle changes.
However, there are some substances that can worsen symptoms of anxiety disorders and related conditions, or even mimic their symptoms. Removing these substances from your diet might help to ease symptoms. If you are suffering from anxiety disorders or related conditions, you should work with your healthcare provider to be sure that you are adequately managing your condition.
Caffeine is a stimulant. As such, too much of it can make you jittery and may even worsen feelings of anxiety.
Worse than that, too much caffeine can contribute to a quickening heartbeat – one of the classic early symptoms of an anxiety attack.
Because caffeinated drinks (soda, energy drinks, coffee, and tea) are also highly acidic, they may also contribute to acid reflux. In this condition, stomach acid rises out of the stomach and rises up the esophagus. This can lead to chest pain. Mild acid reflux combined with a fast pulse can mimic an anxiety attack, but severe acid reflux is sometimes mistaken for a heart attack.
If you can’t give up caffeine, you should try to limit the sources. Energy drinks usually have more caffeine than sodas, which often have more than coffee, which always has more than tea. Energy drinks also have other exotic ingredients that may be giving you problems. Also, energy drinks and soda are loaded with sugar that can also make you jittery.
Coffee and tea are your best bets, as they only have as much sugar as you add. Within this group, coffee has more caffeine than black tea which has more than green tea. If you’re worried about acid, you can always add milk or cream to cut it.
If you decide to cut back on caffeine, be sure to do so gradually. Caffeine is addictive. If you’re used to having a lot of it, cutting back or quitting quickly can have nasty side effects. These can include headaches and agitation.
Alcohol is a depressant. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it makes you sad. It means that it can slow things down for you. That’s why alcohol has a huge appeal to people with anxiety disorders or related conditions. This can lead to problems with substance abuse.
Alcohol isn’t known to have a direct impact on the symptoms of people with anxiety disorders in the same way that caffeine does. Similarly, while it is possible to drink caffeine without going overboard, it is possible to drink alcohol without it posing a serious risk to your health.
However, people with anxiety disorders should be aware that they are at risk to develop a dependency. This is especially true if they also have a family history of alcoholism.
Further, people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are usually advised to stay away from alcohol. It can worsen symptoms and cause a higher risk of addiction.
As is the case with any addictive substance, stopping the use of alcohol can be hard. If you are addicted, healthcare providers can direct you to resources to help you quit. There is also Alcoholics Anonymous that has group meetings in most cities.
Nicotine, the main active ingredient in tobacco products, is somewhat unique in that it is a physical stimulant but a mental depressant. That means that it may ease your troubled mind a little, but it makes your body more jittery.
While the rush that comes from nicotine may promise some relief, the impact that it has on your lungs won’t help you out once an anxiety attack kicks in.
There’s also the fact that if you have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, nicotine use will likely lead to increased feelings of anxiety as you worry about your health more when using the infamously dangerous product. Add that to the fact that the buzz goes away once you become addicted.
As is the case with the other substances discussed in this article, nicotine is an addictive substance but your healthcare provider can help guide you to resources that make it easier to quit.
If you are worried that elements of your diet or drugs that you take (including prescription drugs) are worsening your anxiety disorder or related condition, talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you to assess and change your diet, quit or cut back on addictive substances, and may be able to change your prescriptions to help you to manage your symptoms.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. Every possible effort has been made in preparing and researching this material. We make no warranties concerning the accuracy, applicability of its contents, or any omissions.