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

Hello Steve!

Wishing you the best of luck, too - and I hope you're health issues are better now.  Denise

Hey, I was on this site

Hey, I was on this site tonight browsing the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal because I am also quitting cold turkey tomorrow (4/27/11) and wanted to know what to expect. But I just wanted to wish you luck and support! For me, it makes it easier knowing someone else is going to be doing the same thing, and I just wanted to say stick to your guns!

Hi Chris!

Hello Chris - LOL, before I even respond to your post, I have to admit something pathetic.  I already screwed this up!  I've been traveling for the last week and unfortunately, I had 2 cups of coffee after midnight on a horrible long flight.  But I'm picking up the pieces and going cold turkey tomorrow, April 28th.
As for what to expect, I would have to say that it's not going to be pleasant, Chris, but you can do it!  I'm sick of my own inability to just get rid of this crap once and for all and like you, I'm grateful to know that someone else is going to be toughing it out at the same time.  I will check in with everyone next Thursday and let you know how it goes.  Good luck to you and I hope we can both do this once and for all.

Off caffeine now for 19 days.

Things do improve once the withdrawals process is complete.  I suggest that you try to get plenty of rest.  Lay in bed even if you aren't sleeping.  This will be a down time in your life and there will be hardcore body aches and general irritability, but hang in there.  A lot of it will pass with time, though time will seem to go very slowly.  Our bodies need to rest during this down time.  I slept/laid in bed for many hours, got up, and then went back to sleep.  I slept after work during the 1st week of quitting.  Try to do things that you liked before quitting caffeine.  Being part of a routine helped to keep me going.  I tried to remember that I used to like these things before I quit caffeine.   It's important to add new things to your life once the addiction is kicked so that you don't sit around hoping for the World to stimulate you.  You'll have to find a way to do it on your own.  I now have a lot more energy than before.  Things aren't so intense, but there's a nice calmness around me. It takes time to get used to this feeling. Our fight or flight response will be there when we need or want it.  We don't need it for a prolonged period of time like after we ingest caffeine.  Caffeine is hard on the body by depleting it of its vital life force over time.  Life always seems to turns on us.  One day it seems good, and then the next day there could be a crisis.  Just remember that everything always changes, including the pain of withdrawal.  I truly believe that my life is now better without being so jacked up all the time.  My mood and awareness is a lot more stable, and my body is feeling stronger than it has in years.  I'm not jumping through things, just to get to the next thing.  I once again enjoy the taste of water.  I think that I was perpetually in a state of dehydration when I was so into caffeine.  Best wishes to all those trying to quit caffeine.      

#7 off the bean juice.

At only 18yrs of age- It was time to give up the coffee!
From having 10 hits of caffeine per day- to none!
I have had headache's every day, hot and cold body, aching lower back and neck, biting finger nails, not to mention light headed feeling/diziness, constant sleepiness and blackouts. 
It is really really difficult.
Especially as I drank coffee instead of eating because who has time to eat? Now I am off it- I'm like a normal hungry person....my body is yes, freaking out from food! starting to get better though :)
Is De-caf coffee ok? I was thinking about giving it a try as I love the taste of coffee...???????????
 
 

Caffeine Substitute - Ginseng?

I have been drinking 16-20 oz cup of coffee every morning for the last 18 years with the occasional latte in the afternoon and decided to quick cold turkey today.  I am amazed I am doing ok, but I am sure it will hit tomorrow.  I got my normal headache at 10am when I don't drink my coffee; took two advil and I am ok.  I suffer with anxiety and take anti-anxiety medication everyday so I am hoping that might help with the anxiety side effects people are mentioning.  I also hope by eliminating caffeine that I will be able to not take anti-anxiety medication any longer.  I was wondering if anyone has switched to drinking or taking Ginseng in order to combat the fatigue and listless feeling of not having the caffeine.  I definitely don't want to trade one habit for another but it seems to be healthy with a lot of good benefits.  Thanks to everyone who has written there story, it helps so much to know people are out there going through the same situation.

Day 8

Day 8 no coffee and I feel ok although still groggy in the morning. I have had to drink diet cola with caffeine at work but its about 26mg for half a bottle  vs 300mg for a large dunkin donut coffee I was drinking. I have also drank green tea for a couple days but its just not the same. I am hoping to get to a point where I can wake up and feel rested and alert.  I guess I still have a ways to go..
Anne - regarding the anxiety- Could there possibly be other underlying issues of why you have anxiety? I suffer from it as well and had to really self-evaluate myself and my thoughts. I did this by going to therapy for a few sessions and she guided me towards a path of meditation which makes you observe your thoughts. You learn to view them objectively and not to let them take you down a path to panic.

What do you think?

It's 10 1/2 weeks since I had to go off caffeine. Don't want to talk about the symptoms but wondering if anyone else found the anxiety, panic  and disrupted sleep lasting longer than the other symptoms. IT's almost 3 months now. You keep telling yourself you should be feeling better and should be more positive minded. Does the anxiety leave slowly or suddenly and does getting up and making yourself do things help?

Great topic to blog on. I am

Great topic to blog on.
I am down to 1 cup of black and green tea, decaf coffee and chocolate.
All of the symptoms I went through, flu-like, headache that lasted a week, dizziness, even stomach and leg twitched during a chess match game.
At least without regular coffee, I am not getting that heartbeat racing thing, but my mind is still racing at times.  One day at a time, I have cut back a little bit more every day.  At first when I started quitting, yes I did drink coffee and tea just to get to sleep, after putting it off until late in the day.
 
 

Thankful for these comments

I quite had been taking “No-Doz” on top of several cups of coffee, soda, and energy drinks for months. I work full time, go to school fulltime, and have a demanding home life so I felt justified in consuming this quantity of caffeine. Well, I overdid it and one morning bottomed out with a severe anxiety attach. Crying and worrying that I was going to die and leave my son fatherless. This prompted me to dump the No-Doz. The nest week I kept drinking other caffeine products but realized I needed to stop that too. For 2 days I reduced my consumption to one cup of coffee in the AM then none. I have had severe headaches and anxiety attacks – mostly in the middle of the night and in the morning. Yesterday I could not stand the pain and anxiety so I had half a Red Bull and just like magic felt fine. Today I will try to make it all day without help and use Tylenol to sooth the pain. My muscles and joints ache terrible – esp. in my neck, shoulders, and lower back. I have zero ambition and cannot focus log enough to edit my essay that is due next week. I feel like I want to vomit all the time and there is constant pressure in my head. What a terrible combination of symptoms – it does feel like the flu but worse. Funny thing is I quit smoking pot 2 years ago after heavy long term use and the withdrawal was almost exactly the same – though there was more gastrointestinal distress when withdrawing from pot. Anyway, I thought I was losing my mind until I read these posts. Thanks to everyone who contributed. 

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