Caffeine Enhancing Anxiety in Asperger Syndrome?

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

I love coffee. I didn’t always love it, but I always preferred it to tea, so I’ve drunk it my whole life and often prefer to order a coffee at a restaurant rather than a soft drink, even when I was younger. So, as I got older, I drank more coffee, because I don’t really like many other drinks (well, I do, I just don’t want to spend money on them over things like coffee and orange juice), and when I starting going out with people, and we could go places in the car, I started having more coffee at places when we were out – and then recently I started going to Starbucks quite a lot, because I love it there! Anyway, all of this led up to buying a coffee machine, and me choosing several kinds of coffee to make – and then promptly drinking about 4 or 5 cups per day.

So, after enjoying my coffee machine for a couple of weeks, I ended up feeling really, really down and depressed, and I didn’t know why. I had to stop making videos, writing blogs, posting on my forum, managing all of my social media – everything. I was just lying in bed most days, feeling like I was on the verge of a panic attack. I wasn’t cooking, cleaning or even getting dressed and I was angry at myself for failing to do these things, which would result in crying and anxiety. It was really bad and I was starting to get afraid, because I felt similar to how I did around my nervous breakdown. So as per usual, I thought I’d try and figure out what the hell was going on, before it got beyond my control.

At first, I thought it might be because I was spending a lot of time with alone. Then I thought maybe it was all the stress of having money troubles. But even though these things bothered me, I felt like it was still something more.

I had a look online to see if anyone else felt this bad because they were alone all day, but as I was searching, I saw someone listing off all the things that I was feeling, and when I clicked on it, it was an article to do with caffeine. I read through it and realised that I was potentially feeling as hideous as I was feeling, just because of caffeine. It scared me how absolutely on the edge of a breakdown I was, just from coffee (and Coca Cola, probably, though I didn’t drink too much of that). It was ruining my life, I wasn’t able to stay awake all day – despite drinking coffee to try and make me stay awake (I think my body had gotten used to it, so it didn’t work anymore), and I was bitterly unhappy.

Ironically (or not, I’ve never been able to understand irony), I was mid-way through a cup of coffee as I was reading the article. I put it down immediately and drank a bottle of water, and kept away from the coffee (my lovely, expensive, newly purchased coffee). I went out that night and bought caffeine free coffee and coke.

The following day I couldn’t keep my eyes open, it was worse than ever before and I felt terrible. In the next few days I got a really nasty headache that wouldn’t go away, so I read up on how people feel when they just stop their caffeine intake. It looked as if I would be feeling pretty rough for the next week. It was really emotional and I was glad I’d bought caffeine free drinks, because I do still love the taste of coffee, so it didn’t feel like I’d given anything up.

I looked on the bright side though because I knew after the withdrawal symptoms had died down, I should feel better than I had done for a long time. And I do! I’m not unhappy anymore and I’m back to being able to do housework and what not. I haven’t quite jumped back into videos and blogs etc., but I’m edging my way there slowly, because I do think I was stressed anyway, without the caffeine! I just can’t believe how bad it made me feel. I think my Asperger's enhanced it though, because it made my already elevated anxiety levels went through the roof, causing meltdowns etc.

Moral of the story: decaf coffee, especially if you have Aspergers Syndrome or Autism!

Here are a couple of sites I found:
Ten Reasons to Quit Your Coffee
Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms
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