What are the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal?

Regular caffeine consumption reduces sensitivity to caffeine. When caffeine intake is reduced, the body becomes oversensitive to adenosine. In response to this oversensitiveness, blood pressure drops dramatically, causing an excess of blood in the head (though not necessarily on the brain), leading to a headache.

This headache, well known among coffee drinkers, usually lasts from one to five days, and can be alleviated with analgesics such as aspirin. It is also alleviated with caffeine intake (in fact several analgesics contain caffeine dosages).

Often, people who are reducing caffeine intake report being irritable, unable to work, nervous, restless, and feeling sleepy, as well as having a headache. In extreme cases, nausea and vomiting has also been reported.

References.

Caffeine and Health. J. E. James, Academic Press, 1991. Progress in Clinical and Biological Research Volume 158. G. A. Spiller, Ed. Alan R. Liss Inc, 1984.

Comments

What do you think?

Do you think some people drink a lot of caffeine because they might be experiencing depression? I kind of feel that psychologically my reason for becoming a caffeine addict over the years was to compensate for the things in my life that I was not happy with. I also noticed that for several months I was not focusing on the things I normally would have a year ago like exercising, getting out of the house, walking my dog, etc. Therefore, I started to indulge myself in drinking more caffeinated beverages and as a result I got burned. What do you think?

Kikaida

I think you are right

I think this happens to a lot more than people realize.  Often times it happnes in reverse to.  We start drinking coffee to keep with lifes demands or to push harder than the next guy...only problem is nothing is free when it comes to our brains.  Eventually the caffie starts effecting our sleep and pretty soon we find we are in a little funk.  Now our old friend doesn't seem to work like it used to.  Then if you try and quit cold turkey you find out that your brain is not very happen about the new state of affiars. 
 

Caffeine for depression

Yes.  I often do.  Wine too.  That's just the way it is.  But my depression is the kind that passes.  If you have clinical depression--severe and constant--get help.  Unhappy situations are a bug.  If it's your home life, work it out.  If it's work, talk to someone or change jobs.  For the regular blues a cup of tea or a good book, a walk, clean the house--get active, you'll feel better.

Oh the pain!

Day 4 caffeine free. I quit my lifetime 12-15 cups of tea each day due to chronic acid reflux. I have consulted my doctor and been given PPI medication to help with the stomach and he agrees that cutting the caffeine will also help.

Wow, I feel so bad! Headache, very severe headache centred in my left eye. Ear and toothache too same side, maybe suggests that its a sinus thing? Even my hair hurts, my scalp is so sensitive. I'm very sleepy, napping lots and sleeping through ten hour nights. This is a big change since I've had lots of trouble with insomnia for years. I have dizziness and trouble concentrating. I can barely type and my guitar playing, a newish hobby, has deteriorated completely!

I feel physically weak and tire easily after the slightest exertion. My bowel movements are irregular with lots of wind, and I think I'm on the way to being constipated. All these things would have been really scary if I hadn't been expecting most of them already as a result of reading forums like this one. The most frightening of all is the depression I've been experiencing today and yesterday. It's been such a short time since I quit that I'm surprised my mind is so profoundly affected. I feel weepy and clingy like a little boy who wants his mummy. In fact I'm almost crying as I type those words.

It's a hard process folks. I did it cold turkey which wasn't perhaps the best way, but I'd not eaten or drunk anything apart from water for two days due to an unrelated viral stomach upset, and I decided to make the most of the head start I had gained. There's one thing about feeling so crappy though; it has made me really understand how my body is so powerfully affected by this 'socially acceptable drug'. My determination to get off it for keeps is strengthened by each symptom I experience.

I have one question yet unanswered. How long does this go on? I read 9 to 10 days for the worst of it but at least one poster here said it took some months for her to feel completely well. So, to the scientists out there, how long does it take for the last of the caffeine to be metabolised and excreted and how long after that for the body to find it's own equilibrium.

Good luck everyone,

Don Smith
[email protected]

Hi Don

So far its been 7 weeks since I quit caffeine cold turkey. You're lucky at least you're sleeping. I am taking Clonazepam which is a benzodiazepine medication in the same family as Valium. I am so scared of taking this medication because I don't want to become dependent or addicted to this drug. I just gave up caffeine and don't want to add another substance to my list. There are times I felt like giving up hope. I have to admit that there are some days I was thinking stupid thoughts like harming myself because the caffeine withdrawals were so hard to deal with and also due to lack of sleep. From what I have heard from a friend of mine who also quit caffeine cold turkey 5 years ago, he said it took him about 3 months to initially get over the withdrawals and another 3 months to feel almost normal. So that's like 6 months total. I also was told by my therapist that with post acute withdrawal syndrome it can take 6 months to a year to totally get over the withdrawals from a substance but I don't know if that applies to caffeine also but I wouldn't doubt it. My neurologist told me that it only takes up to 9 days total to withdraw from caffeine. He also told me that the withdrawals symptoms I am dealing with are not from caffeine since its more than 2 weeks. It just goes to show you that doctors don't know everything. Reading these post on this forum has help me to realize that I am not crazy and what I am experiencing is real. All I can say is hang in there.

Kikaida

Hi Kikaida

Wow, it sounds like you are having a really grim time. You hang in there too!

I wonder if your doctor is saying that the chemical residues of caffeine clear out of the body in nine days to two weeks? That would 'just' leave dealing with the psychological adjustments. I notice that the symptoms that people mention continuing for months are the disordered moods and sleeping difficulties. I'm thinking that people like me, with a history of depression, may have been self-medicating with caffeine without noticing and without it there remains a tendency for the depression to return? I've recently made a lot of progress in therapy with my messed up mind so perhaps I'll get through without dropping too low. Fingers crossed there!

It doesn't surprise me that thoughts of self harm have surfaced for you. I know several people who do this and, though the reasons vary, some say that they are stimulated by the practice and jerked out of their withdrawals into black depression. I think it's a shock/adrenaline response to the pain. Caffeine as stimulant might be similar I guess. Unfortunately, self-harm is also very addictive and the social side-effects are awful. You'd probably be better off with a cuppa!

Best of luck,

Don

re: Hi Kikaida

Hi Don, Thanks for replying back. Having bad insomnia really screws your mind up. My sleep pattern has been really bad. I tend to wake up like every 90 mins, 60 mins and 30 mins per night. It's awful having to deal with it. Plus I have OCD which causes my mind to think a lot. I am starting to have a depression setting in because of having to deal with the overwhelming withdrawals. I think for those who don't have any type of mental issues, it might be easier for them to cope with things. I am trying to handle things as best as I can, but it sure ain't easy.
Kikaida

How you doing, pal?

I hope things ate easing for you. I've been headache free for a couple of days now and I think I'm suddenly over the worst of it. I'm noticeably more relaxed, taking reversals at work in a good easy stride for once. But then I've been sleeping well, unlike you. Do you get plenty of exercise? Just a thought...
Good luck, Don

I'm a few days into getting

I'm a few days into getting myself off the caffeine. I took the advice of another site and am taking phenylalanine supplements (DLPA. Some take tyrosine instead). Just 500 mg in the morning with breakfast (some take two 1,000 mg doses a day). So far I'm not getting the strong cravings or regular withdrawal symptoms, but again it's only been a few days and my problem is with soda which has less caffeine than coffee. I'll just have to see if the cravings are still down in another week or so.

One issue I am having is sore muscles. May be a coincidence considering my job. Or it could be that I've been unintentionally medicating myself with caffeine and now I'm paying the price.

I have been drinking more water as a result which is good. That's something.

3 weeks out

I quit caffeine about 3 weeks ago due to anxiety. I feel great now, but the side effects I had was really tough and caused to me to have anxiety attacks because I thought something was wrong with me. Along with caffeine I stopped MSG and aspartame. My muscles are not stiff anymore and I seem to be far more alert and attentive. Everyone hang in there it get so much better with time and your body will love you later.

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