Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Coffee Therapy for Coffee-Induced Anxiety Attacks

Studies about coffee has proven that the beverage can help enhance alertness and physical performance. But it is a well-established fact that coffee, or rather its caffeine content, is a factor for anxiety attacks. Caffeine, after all, is a known stimulant that could induce feelings of excitement or panic.

How does coffee contribute to having a panic attack? The caffeine we get from coffee works by blocking the depressant function of adenosine, one of the many chemicals the brain produces. And although this may give some people a sense of focus, it may cause people who are more susceptible to anxiety disorders to manifest symptoms of anxiety, like sweaty palms and quickened pulses. But sometimes, it isn't an actual anxiety attack that's happening. It is simply a misinterpreted caffeine-induced buzz.

In most instances, mental health professionals would prescribe the use of anxiety medications like Buspar and advise anxiety disorder sufferers to lay off on coffee to deal with such feelings of irrational panic and anxiety. But some psychologist have a different take on a different approach to treating coffee lovers who report having panic attacks. They advise consuming more caffeine.

This approach can be accounted for as a kind cognitive-behavioral therapy where sufferers are taught how to differentiate simple coffee buzz from an actual panic attack. Drinking too much coffee can give you sweaty palms, a pounding heart, and make you hear ringing in your ears, which to those predisposed to the psychological condition may appear as signs of impending doom. And once this thought process has started, the anxiety can take a life of its own and lead to a full-scale panic attack.

This cognitive-behavioral approach teaches sufferers of the many physical changes consuming caffeine can bring and help them understand that their so-called symptoms of a heart attack is just the body's normal reaction to caffeine. Anxiety sufferers are then taught to differentiate unfounded fears from actual threats. Successfully doing so will help prevent people from overreacting to a simple coffee buzz and avoid blowing the experience out of proportion.

Although it is true that coffee, and the caffeine it contains, may worsen anxiety and panic disorders, it is important to understand that these may simply be just the caffeine making its way around. It is, after all, the most widely, albeit unintentionally, used mood-altering drug in the world.

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