WHY YOU SHOULD GIVE UP YOUR MORNING CUP OF COFFEE
When I work with clients who are dealing with anxiety or panic attacks, one of the first things I suggest is to eliminate all caffeine from your diet, at least temporarily. One of the key characteristics of anxiety is the misinterpretation of physical sensations associated with anxiety such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweaty palms, fast, shallow breathing, and racing thoughts. Caffeine is a stimulant that speeds up the body much like anxiety, and in some situations our mind doesn't know the difference between anxiety and stimulation from caffeine or other substances. Sometimes when consuming caffeine, we are liable to misinterpret the associated physical changes as anxiety (e.g., "oh no, I can feel my heart racing and I must be having a panic attack," etc.). Avoiding caffeine during the initial phase of treatment for anxiety will help eliminate the risk of misinterpreting bodily sensations. Safe substitutes include decaffeinated coffee and herbal teas.
John Clarke, MA, EdS, LPC, is a licensed therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship issues in the Elizabeth area of Charlotte, North Carolina.