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.


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.


Continuing Struggle; Denise

I'm not off of caffeine, but I'm doing pretty well. I'm down to one can of diet pop and one small cup of green tea each day (less than 100mg total). This is hardly being free from caffeine, but is a considerable improvement over my previous caffeine use (700-1000mg/day!). As before, quitting sugar has definitely helped me in this struggle. I would submit to anyone that stopping, or at least cutting back on your sugar intake will make the caffeine withdrawal easier; it always has for me. But unless you are some kind of superhuman, I would not go cold turkey on sugar and caffeine at the same time. I tried that, and will likely never do so again.

Also, I started taking 100 mg of 5-HTP each day, and that seems to have helped. I would recommend reading about 5-HTP for anyone who is battling the anxiety/depression that comes with caffeine withdrawal.

And last but not least, thank you for the kind words, Denise :) I've always appreciated your positive attitude and comments here. You're a great help to this board and everyone who is trying to kick the caffeine habit. How is your own caffeine struggle going? Best of luck.

continuing struggle

i was drinking 2-3 cans of Vault Zero a day. I quit 2 days ago cold turkey. i have the shakes really bad. my question is; i am on anti-depressants. how do you think this might affect me. I'm afraid it might get worse. comments?

Greetings, Dave and fellow

Greetings, Dave and fellow recovering caffeine addicts! :)

As I posted to Kikaida, below, today is Day 18 for me. I experienced the usual symptoms ... headache, body pain and feeling out of sorts, but there was a new twist this time ... horrible, graphic nightmares. Good Lord. The first week - all I did was dream scary stuff that would leave me feeling sick to my stomach when I woke up. Thankfully that seems to have passed now.

I don't know if this will help anyone else, but this time I started a food diary on the computer. It might seem a little far-fetched, but it really has helped me examine exactly what I am fueling my body with every day. The first few days I needed aspirin for the withdrawal, but now I am able to concentrate on good, clean water, lots of veggies and fruit, lean proteins and low sugar. I think your suggestion of overcoming sugar is an important one, Dave - I certainly feel better with far less sugar and ZERO caffeine!

Over these last 18 days, I've even managed to brew coffee for people without wanting to give in. I take a big deep breath of the freshly-brewed stuff (LOVE that smell!) and then remember how quickly that cup will get cold and how quickly I could ruin my health and become an addict again. I am starting to feel like a strong warrior in this battle!

Love you guys! Denise

21 days

I've been 21 days without caffeine and the first week was really bad. I find myself to be sensitive to light, like anything bright. Just wondering if that's normal. I also have anxiety pretty bad, i just think everything is going wrong with me and my mind just keeps racing. How do you stay calm and relaxed?

Hey Matt. Although I never

Hey Matt. Although I never experienced light sensitivity, I did have bad anxiety and depression. I quit cold turkey a little over four months ago. To relax, I found bedtime tea to be very helpful. It always helped to calm my nerves and prepare me for sleep. Another tactic I learned was to try my best not to acknowledge my anxiety. Whether my anxiety was very high or non-existent, I'd try to pretend that I didn't matter. I found that dwelling on it always made it worse. Anyways, I hope this helps at least a little bit. Just take one day at a time and remember that you're not crazy!; you're experiencing this stuff because of caffeine.

Hello Matt, Your light

Hello Matt,

Your light sensitivity might be related to your cranial nerves and veins starting to relax from the constricted state that they were in when you used caffeine - something like the light aura/light sensitivities experienced by those who suffer from migraines. From my own experience, the withdrawal period is full of strange vision problems and I also get ringing in my ears when I drink coffee. As for your mind racing with dark thoughts, yep - that, too, is a side effect. I found that this withdrawal (I've tried to quit numerous times in the past!) - my dark thoughts were manifesting as horrible nightmares - vivid and disturbing. Luckily, they seem to have stopped now (18 days in).

Good luck to you, Matt.

Just an added testimonials of

Just an added testimonials of the nightmares. I scream in my sleep and scare the living daylights out of my husband. My poor brain is trying to figure itself out without caffeine!!

I quit drinking caffeine 5

I quit drinking caffeine 5 days ago, I wonder if any of you is experiencing leg pain in my case is keeping me awake and I get this sensation of like a hot flash that scares me is like heat getting through my upper body and does not let me sleep.

I was drinking between 10 - 12 cups of coffee a day I'm stopping because I think I have an ulcer. I feel like crying in fact I'm crying frightened from the feeling that I may never feel like myself again. It helped me reading your experiences. I'm not really craving coffee but I don't know what to do to feel better. Thank you

Teresa: Yes, I've experienced


Yes, I've experienced hamstring and lower back aches every time I've quit drinking caffeine. This appears to be a symptom for heavier and more long-term users. It will go away in a few days, but I know from experience that is a not an easy symptom to deal with. If you read back on this board, you will find many people complaining of similar pain. Now, do you want to know the scary part? No one can tell me why those symptoms occur! I've talked to medical professionals, long-term caffeine users, etc. and no one can even give an intelligent guess.

You will feel like yourself again, it's just going to take some time and patience. Best of luck.

Pain in hamstrings from caffeine withdrawal

Hi, I have quit caffeine twice in my life. Once recently,  and once ten years ago. The pain in my  legs was so bad that I could not sleep, stand or sit. I had to workout my legs about ten times daily for them to settle down and be pain free. This is beacuse when you drink caffeine, you stimulate the central nervous system radically. When you overstimulate it way too offten (I drank about 1-2 pots of coffee myself), and then you stop it, you get Siatica  or "pinched nerve  syndrome". Your muscles have become so taught from overstimulation that they remain tight until the offending substance is out of your system. It can last from 4- 14 days and can be accompanied by "Diabetic" symptoms, tingling in legs and feet, flushing in feet, extreme weakness and unstable gait while walking. This will also pass in time- rebuild your bodies stores of minerals and vitamins during the detox and drink tons of water. It's been a month for me now and I hope to be off for good. 

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