Caffeine Withdrawal

Caffeine withdrawal: When people feel that they cannot function without their daily coffee, they are nursing their addiction, keeping caffeine withdrawal symptoms at bay. Researchers agree that regular caffeine use creates a physical dependence, a mild form of caffeine addiction. Some heavy caffeine users grow irritable, get headaches, or feel lethargic when they can’t get their caffeine supplement.

Caffeine withdrawal, are its effects serious enough to be classified as a psychological disorder? Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland affirms this. Griffiths, is a major author of a comprehensive caffeine withdrawal study. He hopes that his report presents a strong argument to include caffeine withdrawal in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This manual, also called DSM, is put out by the American Psychiatric Association. Mental-health practitioners use it to identify conditions and determine treatment options.

In addition, Griffiths believes that the diagnosis criteria for caffeine withdrawal should be updated in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, a medical manual used by the World Health Organization. His conclusions are based on a review of more than 170 years’ scientific observations and published medical observations on the physiological affects of caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

The researchers cited 57 experimental studies and 9 survey studies to back their suggestions for including caffeine withdrawal in the DSM. Their findings were covered in the October 2004 issue of the journal Psycho-pharmacology.

“Doctors have had no scientific framework for diagnosing the syndrome,” said Griffiths, explaining why he conducted this research study.

Caffeine withdrawal symptoms occur with slight addictions. Griffiths said that research demonstrated that people who drink as little as a hundred milligrams of caffeine per day (approximately the amount in half a cup of coffee ) can develop a physical dependence that triggers caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

Many regular caffeine users don’t know that sudden cessation can produce annoying caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

Caffeine withdrawal symptoms appear in five forms:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Depression or irritability
  • Inability to concentrating
  • Flu-like symptoms such as nausea, muscle pain, and stiffness

Griffiths said that the studies consistently indicated that at least half of regular caffeine consumers would experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms if they stopped. He added that research showed that symptoms could flare up regardless of which caffeine products were used.

Caffeine withdrawal caused 13 percent of people to have clinically significant distress or functional impairment Griffiths said. In the most severe cases, caffeine withdrawal lead to missing work, canceling social functions, and going to bed with the feeling that the people had the flu.”

Generally caffeine withdrawal symptoms, started within 12 to 24 hours after stopping caffeine consumption. The major unpleasantness occurred within the first two days, but other symptoms could last for as long as nine days.

An interesting result of the research, Griffiths said, was that regular caffeine users may use it more to stave off caffeine withdrawal symptoms than to simply enjoy the product.

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