Why Does Coffee Make Me Anxious But Not Soda? Exploring the Difference in Effects on Anxiety Levels

I have always been a coffee lover. There is something about that strong aroma and bold taste that just wakes me up and gets my day started on the right foot. However, I have noticed something peculiar about my relationship with coffee – it sometimes makes me feel anxious. On the other hand, I can drink soda without experiencing any of these anxious feelings. This got me thinking – why does coffee make me anxious but not soda? Are there any differences in the effects of these two beverages on anxiety levels? Let’s dive into the world of caffeine and explore the reasons behind this intriguing phenomenon.

The Role of Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the most commonly consumed psychoactive substances worldwide. Found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and even some medications, it is known for its stimulating effects on the central nervous system. Caffeine works by blocking the action of a neurotransmitter called adenosine, which helps us feel tired and promotes sleep. By inhibiting adenosine, caffeine increases wakefulness and alertness, making us feel more energetic.

Coffee: A Higher Caffeine Content

Coffee contains significantly more caffeine than soda. Typically, a cup of coffee contains around 95 milligrams of caffeine, whereas a can of soda may only have around 30 milligrams. The increased caffeine content in coffee can lead to a more pronounced effect on anxiety levels. Higher doses of caffeine can stimulate the release of adrenaline, a hormone associated with the body’s fight-or-flight response. This surge in adrenaline can trigger feelings of anxiety, restlessness, and even panic in susceptible individuals.

Soda: Other Factors at Play

While caffeine may not be the primary culprit for anxiety-inducing effects in soda, other factors could contribute to its possible calming effects compared to coffee. One key factor to consider is sugar content. Most sodas are loaded with sugar, which can have a calming effect on the brain. Sugar can trigger the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter known for its mood-enhancing properties. The temporary surge in serotonin levels can create a sense of relaxation and well-being, counteracting any potential anxiety symptoms.

Another factor is the presence of l-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid found in tea, including some sodas. It is known for its calming effects and ability to reduce stress and anxiety. L-theanine can counterbalance the stimulating effects of caffeine by promoting relaxation and improving focus without causing drowsiness. The combination of caffeine and l-theanine found in some sodas can provide a more balanced and relaxed experience compared to coffee.

The Role of Personal Sensitivity

Each person’s reaction to caffeine can vary significantly depending on their individual sensitivity. Some individuals may be more susceptible to the stimulating effects of caffeine, while others may be relatively unaffected. Genetic factors, such as the presence of certain enzymes that metabolize caffeine, can influence sensitivity levels. Additionally, factors like age, body mass, and existing anxiety or stress levels can also impact how caffeine affects each person.

The Anxiogenic Effects of Coffee

Despite the potential anxiety-inducing effects of caffeine, it is important to note that anxiety can also be a result of psychological factors. For example, if you have had a negative experience with coffee in the past or associate it with stressful situations, it can trigger anxiety-related responses. The power of the mind should not be underestimated when considering the overall effect of coffee on anxiety levels.

Psychological Conditioning and Soda

In contrast, many people do not have that same conditioned response to soda. Soda consumption is often associated with relaxation and socialization, rather than productivity or intense focus. This difference in psychological conditioning could contribute to the divergent effects between coffee and soda on anxiety levels.


In conclusion, the difference in anxiety-inducing effects between coffee and soda can be attributed to several factors. The higher content of caffeine in coffee amplifies its potential to stimulate the release of adrenaline, leading to increased anxiety levels. On the other hand, soda’s lower caffeine content, combined with factors such as sugar and l-theanine, can create a more balanced and relaxed experience.

However, it is crucial to consider individual sensitivity, genetic factors, and psychological conditioning when evaluating the impact of these beverages on anxiety levels. Each person’s response will vary, so it is essential to listen to your body and understand how different substances affect you personally. As for me, I will continue to enjoy my cup of coffee in moderation, being mindful of its potential effects on my anxiety levels.

Leave a Comment