Decaf Coffee: Friend or Foe? The Truth About its Impact on Anxiety

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Are you someone who loves coffee but can’t handle the caffeine? Or do you suffer from anxiety and want to know if decaf coffee can help or harm you? Decaf coffee has been around for a long time, but many still wonder about its effects on anxiety. In this article, we will answer the question – can decaf coffee cause anxiety?

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural and common human emotion characterized by worry, unease, or apprehension, often about an upcoming event or situation with an uncertain outcome. It can be experienced as a response to stress, potential threats, or challenging situations, and it can help individuals to stay alert and focused.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Constant and excessive worry about everyday things.
  • Panic Disorder: Sudden and intense fear, causing panic attacks with physical symptoms.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Extreme fear of social situations and being judged by others.
  • Specific Phobias: Intense fear of a particular object, situation, or activity.
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: Extreme fear of being away from loved ones or home.
  • Agoraphobia: Fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or help unavailable.

These disorders can affect daily life and require treatment, such as therapy or medication.

Symptoms and Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety symptoms and causes are listed below.

Symptoms of anxiety:

  • Feeling worried or scared often
  • Having trouble focusing
  • Feeling tired easily
  • Getting annoyed quickly
  • Having tense muscles
  • Trouble sleeping
anxiety makes you feel
Anxiety can make you feel these.

Causes of anxiety:

  • Stressful events: Big changes or problems in life can cause anxiety.
  • Family history: Anxiety can run in families, so if your parents have it, you might have it too.
  • Health issues: Some illnesses can cause anxiety or make it worse.
  • Personality: Shy or sensitive people might be more likely to feel anxious.
  • Brain chemistry: Chemicals in the brain can affect how you feel and cause anxiety.
  • Substance use: Drinking alcohol or using drugs can lead to anxiety problems.

Overview of Coffee’s Effects on the Body

Coffee is a well-liked drink that comes from roasted coffee beans. It has many effects on the body. The caffeine in coffee helps you stay alert and focused and can make you feel better by boosting your mood. Coffee has antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Drinking a moderate amount of coffee may suit your heart and help digestion. But coffee can also make you produce more urine, which may lead to dehydration. Drinking coffee close to bedtime might make it hard for you to sleep. Lastly, you might become dependent on caffeine if you drink coffee often, and stopping it can cause headaches and other symptoms.

Related Read: 5 Best Coffee Recipes to Keep You Warm in Winter

Can Regular Coffee Cause Anxiety?

Regular coffee consumption can potentially cause or worsen anxiety in some people. This is mainly due to caffeine, a stimulant found in coffee. Caffeine can increase alertness and heart rate, which may lead to feelings of nervousness, jitteriness, or anxiety in sensitive individuals. If you’re prone to anxiety or already experiencing anxiety, it’s a good idea to monitor your coffee intake and consider reducing it if you notice it exacerbates your anxiety symptoms.

How Does Decaf Coffee Differ from Regular Coffee?

Here’s a table showing the main differences between decaf and regular coffee:

Category Regular Coffee Decaf Coffee
Caffeine It contains caffeine, typically 95-200 mg per 8-ounce cup Almost caffeine-free, usually 2-5 mg per 8-ounce cup
Flavor Stronger, more robust flavor Milder flavor, sometimes less rich or slightly altered
Aroma Bold aroma Slightly less intense aroma
Health effects Increased alertness, the potential for anxiety, sleep disturbances Reduced risk of anxiety and sleep issues, lower caffeine-related side effects
Antioxidants Contains antioxidants It also contains antioxidants, but levels may vary slightly

Both regular and decaf coffee have similar health benefits due to their antioxidant content. However, decaf coffee is a good option for those sensitive to caffeine or wanting to limit their caffeine intake.

Can Decaf Coffee Cause Anxiety?

decaf coffee
Decaf Coffee

Decaf coffee has much less caffeine than regular coffee, making it less likely to cause anxiety. However, some studies show that even small amounts of caffeine can affect sensitive people. If you are prone to anxiety, decaf coffee’s tiny amount of caffeine might still cause a reaction.

Factors that may contribute to anxiety from decaf coffee include:

  • Caffeine sensitivity: If you are very sensitive to caffeine, even a small amount of decaf coffee could make you anxious.
  • Placebo effect: If you believe drinking coffee might make you anxious, your mind might create anxiety symptoms even when you drink decaf coffee.
  • Individual reactions: People can react differently to the same drink, so some might feel anxious after drinking decaf coffee, even if most do not.

In summary, decaf coffee is less likely to cause anxiety because it has very little caffeine. However, if you are very sensitive to caffeine or believe that coffee makes you anxious, you might still feel some anxiety after drinking decaf.

Tips for Reducing Anxiety from Decaf Coffee

healthy eating plate
Healthy Eating Plate

If you want to reduce anxiety from decaf coffee, consider the following tips:

  1. Monitor your intake: Pay attention to how much decaf coffee you drink and how it affects your anxiety levels. If you notice increased anxiety after consuming it, try to reduce your intake or avoid it altogether.

  2. Opt for herbal teas: Replace decaf coffee with caffeine-free herbal teas, which can provide a soothing alternative without the risk of triggering anxiety.

  3. Practice relaxation techniques: Engage in calming activities, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, to help manage anxiety and reduce stress.

  4. Stay active: Regular physical activity can help reduce anxiety and improve overall well-being. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine, such as walking, jogging, or swimming.

  5. Get enough sleep: Ensure a regular sleep schedule and maintain good sleep hygiene to reduce anxiety and stress.

  6. Maintain a balanced diet: Eating a healthy diet can help regulate mood and reduce anxiety. Include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your meals.

  7. Limit other caffeine sources: Be mindful of other sources of caffeine in your diet, such as tea, chocolate, or soda, which can also contribute to anxiety.

  8. Seek professional help: If anxiety persists or becomes unmanageable, consult a mental health professional for guidance and support.

By following these tips, you can reduce the chances of experiencing anxiety from decaf coffee and improve your overall mental well-being.

Decaf Coffee Alternatives

Here are some decaf coffee alternatives, along with their benefits and drawbacks:

Herbal Tea

Herbal teas are made from various plants, fruits, flowers, or spices. They are caffeine-free and come in many flavors, offering a range of health benefits, such as relaxation or digestion support.

herbal tea with mint, cinnamon, dried rose and camomile flowers
Herbal Tea with mint, cinnamon, dried rose and camomile flowers


  • Caffeine-free
  • Wide variety of flavors
  • It can have calming or stimulating effects depending on the type
  • Rich in antioxidants and other health benefits


  • It may not provide the same taste or texture as coffee
  • Some herbal teas can interact with medications or cause allergic reactions

Chicory Root Coffee

Chicory root coffee is a caffeine-free substitute for roasted and ground chicory root. It tastes similar to coffee and contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that supports gut health.

chicory root coffee
Chicory Root Coffee


  • Caffeine-free
  • Similar in taste and texture to coffee
  • It contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that supports gut health


  • It can cause gas or bloating in some people
  • It may not provide the same energy boost as caffeinated coffee

Golden Milk (Turmeric Latte)

Golden milk is a warm, caffeine-free drink made from milk, turmeric, and spices. It has anti-inflammatory properties and a creamy, comforting taste.

turmeric latte
Turmeric Latte


  • Caffeine-free
  • Anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric
  • Creamy and comforting, similar to a latte
  • Easy to make at home


  • Taste is very different from coffee
  • It can stain clothes or surfaces due to turmeric’s vibrant color

Roasted Grain Beverages

These caffeine-free drinks are made from roasted whole grains, such as barley or rye. They can resemble the taste and texture of coffee and provide some nutritional benefits.

natural rye grains
Natural Rye Grains


  • Caffeine-free
  • It can have a similar taste and texture to coffee
  • Made from whole grains, providing some nutritional benefits


  • It may not provide the same energy boost as caffeinated coffee
  • Not suitable for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease

Carob Powder

Carob powder is a caffeine-free, chocolate-like powder made from the carob tree’s dried pods. It has a naturally sweet taste, is rich in antioxidants and fiber, and can be used in various drinks and recipes.

carob powder
Carob powder


  • Caffeine-free
  • Similar taste to chocolate, which can satisfy a craving for something rich
  • It contains antioxidants and fiber


  • It doesn’t taste like coffee
  • It may not provide the same energy boost as caffeinated coffee

Each alternative has benefits and drawbacks, so choosing one that aligns with your preferences and dietary needs is essential.

Final Words

Decaf coffee contains significantly less caffeine than regular coffee; it is not entirely caffeine-free. For most people, the small amount of caffeine in decaf coffee is unlikely to cause anxiety. However, individuals susceptible to caffeine or anxiety may still experience anxiety-related effects after consuming decaf coffee. It’s essential to be mindful of personal reactions to decaf coffee and consider alternatives if necessary. One can enjoy a satisfying beverage without exacerbating anxiety by paying attention to one’s caffeine intake and exploring other caffeine-free options.


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