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

RE: Suggestion to Daniel (who owns this page)

Since I do not have contact info for most posters that's not really an option but I'll look into adding a poll module to ask some of those questions. It won't be scientific since it'll be a very self selected response pool but it will be interesting all the same.
Thanks for the suggestion

Summary of my experience so far

it is very hard to stop caffeine; easy to be a crutch, use to give strength, courage, to dull emotions and to give energy

but actually it gives nothing; makes me more aggressive, less loving, much worse thinking, 'strung out' and 'wired', and actually less productive if you measure it

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'wait for the wave'; a moment when it feels right to begin withdrawal. the timing of this moment may not seem particularly logical, but still stop then, when it feel right. trigger may be anger against caffeine, or what someone says

leading up to withdrawal by lowering daily intake seems good: e.g. go to just decaff or trace amounts

avoid temptation: walk a long way round to not pass that Starbucks, and in a strong moment throw out your coffee at home

drink lots of hot drinks e.g. fruit tea; replace the 'hot drink comfort' benefit of coffee, be so full of liquid that you're not thirsty

tempting to reach for other drugs, e.g. alcohol. try not to, and if do at least keep intake small and come off again after a few days

temptation is very hard to fight. sometimes it's just hour by hour trench warfare, don't look too far ahead

exercise may be very helpful, but keep to a regular daily pattern if you do. exercise has drug-like effects, so treat it as a drug: be regular with it.

dont fall for 'easy' trip up, having beaten the hard ones. once off, stay off, no matter what the siren voices in your head say about 'just one mouthful will be ok', 'ok you've proved you can do it for X days, now get back to what you love', 'but what else in your life is there to live for; give yourself this high', etc

if you fail, remember the patterns for next time; you grow wiser, and one day you slay the serpent

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In withdrawal I experienced:

headaches days 1-3; take painkiller

anxiety up and down with some initial extremes in week 1, then declining to much, much better than before, both in night and day. probably wrong to expect anxiety to disappear, but hopeful will be less of it, and be lower intensity when it does occur

within first 2 weeks some big physiological swing times e.g. very deep sleep, some energy highs; as body re-sets

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above all remember temptation is very hard to fight. sometimes it's just hour by hour trench warfare, don't look too far ahead, just fight, procrastinate, ignore. it will get easier.

and it is well worth it. much cleaner and better brain, much nicer person.
no need for that drug.

Day 10 - anger, but maybe due to having missed daily exercise

Had some surprising anger yesterday evening - would be interested if any others had experienced at this stage. It may be because I was not able to do my daily exercise (long run+elliptical trainer; c.1hr aerobic) yesterday, which I have been using daily in this process. I have exercised today and I'm hoping the anger will go.
Otherwise going well. Headaches long gone, shakes also. Anxiety level has declined at night, and is declining in day.
In the past I have given into 'soft' temptation ('treat yourself, you just like it so much, it won't do you or any of your loved ones any harm') c.day 14; so am now entering a key phase.

symptons of coffee withdrawal

Myself and my husband only notice our withdrawal when away from home and we get out of the routine of drinking coffee regularly throughout the day. (Morning, midmorning, lunch, midafternoon, after dinner, Approx. 5 mugs a day).
We have been going away on holidays every year to a hilly sunshine resort where we walk and swim alot, lie on sunbeds, sleep in new beds and both of us would get terrible aches and pains in our backs and legs and I noticed quite bad in my hips this year. We both presumed it was due to our walks and other changes to our daily routine.
As we dont normally bother drinking coffee whilst away we never realised that our bodies were craving coffee.
One day my DH brought a small jar of coffee from local shop and some milk and we had a coffee with our lunch, both of us were relieved of our aches and pains almost immediately. This is when it clicked that we had been experiencing these horribly symptoms every year because of coffee/caffeine withdrawal.
It is a little worrying that coffee does affect us this way!
Can we wean ourselves off coffee gradually to avoid this reaction??
p.s. we only ever drink Maxwell House mild blend, we dont do freshly ground etc very often.
 

day 6 - hang in there!

day 6; having anxiety in day, but brain feeling much better. had some heavy sleep; the earlier comments about sleep debt catch-up make sense. feels like my brain and body are re-setting.

big encouragements to everyone! this thread is a great resource

Caffeine is in fact the same

Caffeine is in fact the same thing than cortisone. All bitter foods are the same thing than cortisone. And, surprise surprise, sudden cortisone withdrawal also causes negative symptomes, excatly the same ones than caffeine withdrawal. This is because all these chemical products increase artificially the cortisol level. And when you stop taking them, the cortisol level falls under the normal level, causing all those negative symptomes.
Cortisol level is the key of this problem.

great thread - very

great thread - very motivating. Thanks everyone for contributing.
ideas:
1. procrastinate; tell your inner 'monkey man' you may well have some coffee later, but actually keep putting it off.
2. take very small/trace element; give same effects, but smaller scale (e.g. may be able to resist follow-on issues e.g. caffeine tension causing overuse of alcohol in the evening), and give easier platform for going free when the right circumstances come along.
 
Very interesting discussions here on addiction; http://www.memoirsofanaddictedbrain.com/connect/the-brain-is-incredibly-vulnerable-to-hacking/#comment-209
 
 
 

Good reply

John,good reply,your # 2 comment was right on about caffeine tension leading to alcohol abuse later is something I dont mention very often but is a big factor,I dont think a lot of people realize this.

5 days off coffe

I stoped drinking coffe 5 days ago, I feel like I ran a marathon without drinking water, all my bonds hurts especially pelvis and Nees.

I have to take pain killers to sleep well, is coffe bad for your health? Why shall I stop drinking it? I did because I realized that I am addicted to it but I don't know if it is bad.

I fell less alert, tired and disoriented. I never did drugs or execive alcohol, but I guess that what I am feeling is the feeling of addiction.

If somebody could tell me what should I quit? Please doit to fell more motivation.

Thanks and have a good life!

10 days and counting

I cannot express how grateful I am to find this page.  I am 10 days off of caffiene due to skipped heart beats (PVC's) that sent me to the ER.  Although the heart issue is probably due to peri-menopause, I was told to stay off caffeine and alcohol until all my tests are done.  That won't be for another 2 weeks.  I thought I was going crazy....anxiety, aches all over, killer headache, weird dreams and sleep patterns, crankienss, foggy brain and a feeling of my head not being attached to my body most of the time.  Now, at least, I know I'm just going through withdrawals, not headed for the looney bin.  Up until 10 days ago, I had caffeine every day of my life for 40 years.  No wonder I feel this way.  It's good to know that there is relief in sight.  Thank you for sharing your experiences here so that I can feel better.

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