Coffee and panic attacks
People who suffer from panic attacks seem to have repeatedly noticed that after drinking coffee often happens panic attack. The trigger here is caffeine. Caffeine is a drug, it stimulates the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, activates it, and it is the system that is responsible for excitability, action, activity, irritability. As a rule, people who experience panic attacks live in a constant state of stress, which is also called anxiety, and panic attacks are an extreme disturbing state. Now we can understand that those who often have panic attacks and so have a high level of excitability of the nervous system and after drinking coffee this excitability multiplies at times because of caffeine and there comes panic attack. A similar short-term effect has also another drug – nicotine. That is why we, people with panic disorder, are so alarming, we can feel anxiety after a smoked cigarette, although such anxiety is shorter and not so strong. And what about a sweet couple “coffee and a cigarette”?
As usual, I decided to check the effect of coffee on myself. For five and a half months now, I have not experienced panic attacks, sometimes there was some anxiety and discomfort, but they are also rare now. I never really liked coffee and drank it rarely, but a certain short-term rise after coffee was felt by me before. It was before my panic attacks. Later after drinking coffee I had only anxiety and discomfort, but I sometimes drank it to prove that I was healthy, although I was not healthy. What I experienced after coffee this time? Because when I used to have panic attacks coffee was complete taboo for me. Now I decided to experiment, since for a long time I did not have panic attacks.
So, I brewed a cup of natural coffee, added some sugar. I drunk this cup of coffee and the effect did not make me wait a long time. Even the opposite – the effect was very fast. I work at a computer and often drink tea, and I do not even pay attention to it. But with coffee everything is different. I worked at the computer and felt how my heart beat became frequent and faster. There was a feeling of adrenaline; very much I wanted to get up from the table and start doing something physically. I decided to resist this desire for some time and see what will happen next. I would say that earlier, before my recovery, I would already be 100% afraid and I would have had a panic attack. Nervous arousal inside increased. There were other symptoms – under the sun’s plexus in the stomach my muscles began to strain and reduce – as if I were expecting something unpleasant. That’s what I had on the next day after drinking alcohol, when I was already suffering from panic disorder, but did not know about it yet. I kept watching the sympthoms. There was also a certain discomfort – the severity of the heart. The heart fluttered quickly. The pace of breathing began to change, and I began to think about it. My condition became very disturbing for me to sit at the computer, but I finished doing everything that I had to and decided not to torture an organism – you want a heavy duty – you will get it. I took my dumbbells, but, remembering about my heart, I made a light workout and raised my dumbbells 10 times for each hand. After 2 minutes I repeated. I made a short walk around the apartment. Washed the cup. Then I made next 10 lifts for each hand. In normal “mode” I make several approaches to 20, and then 30 times. This time I started with 5 and most I climbed in one approach was 10 lifts. I just gave the body a little physical activity – something that it needed so much after caffeine, but I was remembering about my heart – because we have one heart and now it was overloaded with caffeine.
I can conclude that caffeine has very quickly changed the balance of hormones in the body, including stress hormones balance. Is it positive effect or not is up to each person to decide. For example, I felt only discomfort and I was just interested to analyze watching from the side what was happening to me. I do NOT advise you to do this. I sat down again at the computer and started working. Anxiety did not leave me, but did not go up as well. For a short time I felt what usually coffe addicted people feel – uplift and energy. I would say that it lasted only about a minute. I have the same positive effect after workout, especially during not quick but long bike ride. But the positive mood that is present after this lasts much longer! And then I feel a pleasant light fatigue that allows me to sleep well in the evening. And after drinking coffee the effect is short, the load on the heart is large, the nervous system is straining, and it is not cheap (coffee is expensive), and then there is a so-called coffee hangover. What to say here is the effect of stimulants. We, people, often want to do nothing, but feel “kicks”, pleasure. And this does not happen without efforts. That is why we pay for quick satisfaction – with our resources. It’s like a loan, which you have to give your body back with interest. What is a coffee hangover? At first, after coffee, you really want to go to the toilet. Then you want to drink clear water. Then comes fatigue, apathy and even annoyance. It’s a payback for quick short-term joy that not even everyone can feel. Such sympthoms appeared for me as well. But it’s surprising that the excitability of the nervous system did not disappear anywhere, but stayed at the same level even in an hour after coffee. I slightly reduced it with light physical activity, but physical activity is also a certain stress. The best way to calm the nervous system would be to have a walk. Even more, I think that if I were doing some physical work, and not working on a computer, then I would not have noticed this effect from coffee. Finally, the increased excitability of the nervous system tired me, and I decided that it was time to use a parasympathetic nervous system – one that is responsible for the state of rest and relaxation, and the best way to do it was meditation.
The beginning of meditation was somewhat unusual, I was a little nervous. But in a minute I began to quietly calm down unknowingly “on autopilot.” The main thing was to start meditation. After meditating, I felt calm, but some kind of feeling after coffee was still there.
What conclusions can make those who suffer from panic attacks and think about coffee? Of course, it’s better to quit drinking coffee. But not only coffee, but also cigarettes, alcohol, strong tea (the same caffeine) – any stimulators of the nervous system. I write about this in detail in the First Steps to Fight Anxiety and Panic Attacks. It is better to get a well-deserved pleasure naturally – by physical activity, sports, meditation, sex, love. All these are natural ways and they do not give that “hangover” and negative impact, though, in order to get pleasure here you need to try, spend more time and efforts.
What if you can not quit coffee and suffer panic attacks? Believe me, if you really are suffering from panic attacks, then you will definitely not start drinking coffee after several times you have a panic attack after drinking it. If you are a kind of mosquito and you will keep drinking coffee, then I suggest that you do something to quickly release energy. Do something physical – walk in the fresh air, just walk around, but remember about the heart and do not overload it! It is better not to drink coffee at all. Drink mint tea or other herbal teas.
I strictly DO NOT advise you to carry out any experiments on yourself. In this case, I wanted to check the state of MY OWN HEALTH, the state of MY nervous system, and also to determine exactly how coffee affects my body. I tested this test already feeling healthy, after 5.5 months working on myself. It is also very important that you were able to get a good night’s sleep. For example, I could not have it for a long time. How important is a night’s sleep during panic attacks recovering read here.