How caffeine affects your mood

Caffeine can help make you feel alert. It can help you concentrate. It can improve your reaction speed. It can help keep you going when you need to. But the effects of too much caffeine can be much the same as those of anxiety. It is a stimulant that affects the brain and central nervous system (CNS). Caffeine can be found in:

  • Drinks such as coffee, tea, fizzy drinks like Coke, Pepsi or Irn-Bru. Diet versions also have high levels.
  • Some pain killers, some cold remedies and headache tablets.
  • Energy tablets and drinks like Pro-Plus and Red Bull. Chocolate contains caffeine though at quite a low level.
  • Many other products contain caffeine so check the packet before using.

Effects of too much caffeine:

feeling nervousirritable
feeling restlessagitated
muscle twitchflushed face
upset stomachincreased heart rate
speeded up breathingpassing water a lot

Taking 150mg of caffeine before you go to bed will make it harder to get to sleep and will affect the quality of your sleep (see the chart below to work out how much this is).

How much is too much?

Some people can take vast amounts of caffeine and are none the worse for it. A rough figure is more than 600 mg a day may cause problems but people who are anxious and prone to panic may react to much smaller amounts. So it is worth while to look at how much caffeine you take each day. The list will help you work this out.

Caffeine (mg)
Fresh coffee140-210 per mug
Instant coffee85-110 per mug
Decaff coffee6 per mug
Tea85-110 per mug
Coke36 per can
Pepsi38 per can
Dr Pepper36 per can
Irn-Bru33 per can
Diet Irn-Bru33 per can
Milk Chocolate22 per 100g
Plain Chocolate72 per 100g
Panadol Extra65 per tablet
Askit110 per sachet
Pro-Plus energy tablets50 per tablet
Red Bull energy drink80 per can

If you think caffeine does play a part in your stress, you should get your daily intake down as much as you can.