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.


Who knew the road would be so long?

Like all of you, I am fighting in the war against caffeine. I started drinking coffee and energy drinks regularly in college. At my prime, I was consuming 600-700 mg of caffeine per day no matter what. As my body continued to build up its tolerance, I continued to ingest more and more caffeine. I didn't really think about it until I began to feel anxious. This anxiety was tolerable at first and only came on in the hours following my caffeine consumption. Pretty soon it became more intense and would come on at random times. This was an odd thing for me, as I had never felt anything like it before in my life. Then out of the blue, this past September, I had what I believe to be a panic attack (again, not sure. i've never had one prior). This experience scared the hell out of me and led me to decide to become caffeine free.

Instead of weaning myself off slowly, I decided to just quit all together. This has proven to be a bad decision, as the withdrawal symptoms have been quite intense. At the time, I didn't know any better. I did no research, but instead just decided to stop immediately. The worst symptoms by far have been anxiety and depression. I lost interest in regularly exciting activities and didn't really want to interact with anybody. I truly have felt at times over the past few months that I've gone crazy. Aside from the ups and downs of these two symptoms, I experience extreme fatigue and body aches for the first month or so, but nothing other than that. It has now been just under four months. The bouts of anxiety and depression are much better than before but are definitely still with me. In time, I would hope that they completely subside so that I can fully enjoy the benefits of a caffeine free life.

My question to the world: Have any of you out there had a similar experience with these symptoms and/ or the amount of time they lasted? When will they be totally gone?!

Say no to Joe!

@Say no to Joe I've always

@Say no to Joe

I've always been fond of caffeine drinks. I would frequently buy energy drinks and other random drinks with caffeine in them, though not to an extreme amount. About 5 months ago, I started working at a coffee shop -- free drinks while working. I can't say exact amounts but I was having a couple caffeinated drinks each day I worked, even putting a few espresso shots in smoothies and such.

A couple of months ago I was doing some reading and drank 3 cups of coffee pretty quickly. I decided against a fourth for whatever reason. A short while after finishing the 3rd, I felt something coming up (that's how I'll describe it, I just knew something was about to "come up"). I had a damn terrible anxiety/panic attack, and even felt a couple heart palpitations. Anyone experienced with them knows the initial burst of anxiety itself can quickly lead to more anxiety. So I was pacing around my place, trying to distract myself and calm myself down. I felt as though I would lose control and/or go crazy at any moment. Thoughts of the hospital raced through my head, and I was a second away from knocking on my roommate's door like a lunatic, just to have someone to talk to and distract me from my racing perilous thoughts.

The only other time I can remember having these sort of attacks was a short period about 6 years ago, for unknown reasons. I mention this because I feel like this experience made me "remember" these attacks - how I can trigger them, what they feel like, and such. Anyway, since that night, I've quit caffeine cold turkey.... and of course, I've had issues. I've been susceptible to anxiety and panic since then, though never at the severity of that experience, although one was particularly bad. I'm just going to keep trucking, and hope it eventually fades and I again forget the feeling; I have no interest in trying to medicate for the anxiety. Good luck to anyone who's experienced something similar.

i too am haveing panic

i too am haveing panic attacks from the caffine withdraw sometimes i dont think my poor heart can take all the raceing it is doing!! i have had them before for different reasons,, nice to see that someone else is going threw this mine usally hits me at night,, i had to give uup caffine due to acid reflux it sucks not gonna lie had to quit smokeing at the same time!! trying my best so hang in there i am trying also

Hi, Say No To Joe! is going


Say No To Joe! is going to be my new mantra ... thank you! :)

Previous to this new withdrawal I am currently in (today is Day 3), I was able to stay clean for four months and I can attest that even then, it was not clear sailing. It's interesting that you mention not wanting to interact with anyone and at times feeling like you've gone crazy. I had the same reaction, especially at the beginning of Month 3. I was almost too tired to want to take a shower, put on makeup, get dressed. I don't know I was actually tired or if this was depression, but it sucked. I gave in to coffee again in the fourth month, but honestly, CAFFEINE IS NOT THE ANSWER! The first few cups are like a gift from Heaven, but pretty soon you are once again addicted and tired of the whole rollercoaster.

All I can tell you is that this time, I am giving my poor, abused body one full year. I honestly don't think a few months is enough time to heal from caffeine abuse. If by January 6, 2012 I haven't completely turned around the health issues I have and if being caffeine-free hasn't made a huge difference, then I'll go back to drinking coffee.

I wish you all the luck in the world. Stay strong, friend!

Dave MM and Lessons Learned

Hi Everyone,

I read each and every post on this board and wish I could respond to all of them, but I'm sure that's not what administrator Daniel has in mind, and I'm no Ann Landers for sure! I do know that I've gotten tremendous comfort and support here while going through caffeine withdrawal and I hope others do as well.

Dave MM - you have been a particularly helpful e-buddy and I hope that you are successful in both your medical school pursuits as well as once and for all finally getting off of caffeine. Keep us posted on your success. :-)

Today is Day 2 for me. I would love to say with 100% certainty that I'll never succumb again, but I've learned my lesson - caffeine is A DRUG. A serious, body and mind altering drug. If anyone ever doubts our claims, tell them to just try to live without it for a few days. Like any recovering addict, I can see this is going to be a one-day-at-a-time thing.

Best of luck to everyone.

I have been a heavy coffee

I have been a heavy coffee drinker since I was in school even though I am quite sensitive to caffeine. I stopped taking caffeine last Thursday. Usual withdrawal symptoms set in after 48 hours. I had headaches but no migranes, flu like symptoms and was extremely irritable. The flu symptoms went away with simple pain killers (aspirin, paracetamol etc). Caffein withdrawl symptoms are a distruction but do not affect your ability to do mental or physical tasks. So going on with my everyday business to keep my mind away from the symptoms was really helpfull. Also naps after lunchtime really helped make me feel better. I also had difficulty falling to sleep at night the first 2-3 days after the onset of symptoms probably because the brain gets over-exited. By today all the irritating symptoms have gone and I'm feeling great. What you have to do is keep in mind that symptoms usually only last for less than a week so all you need to do is try to keep your mind off the symptoms and you'll be great.


I have also quit coffee before in my younger years and felt great. I knew I would feel better not drinking it. I have had aches that I attribute to coffee. Plus I could only drink coffee with non-dairy creamer which does nothing for the waistline. Since Jan. 1 no coffee. But wow do I have withdrawal symptoms. I expected the headaches but the aching that seems to move through my body was unexpected. A day or two into it and I was so depressed and sleepy. It has been 6 days and I'm just starting to feel better. I am so glad I read these comments because I was starting to feel like I had a serious disease! I hope when I am feeling great again I do not go back to drinking it. I am going to be a better golfer!! I can hardly wait. :)

Hang in there everyone. This

Hang in there everyone. This is my second go around with caffeine withdrawl. The first time I did it I thought I was going insane. Horrible side effects I dealt with but after about a week or so I came back to normal and felt great. I am now again going through withdrawl hell. I have had a headache for days feel tired achy and miserable. This too shall pass. It boggles my mind that coffee can do this to the human body.

Caffeine withdrawal

I am on the road to quitting caffeine. I am a coffee addict. In addition, I drink it with loads of cream and sugar. 5 years ago, I underwent gastric bypass surgery for obestity. Lost 100 lbs and regained 40, largely due to the cream & surgery. A few months ago, I developed a bleeding ulcer and an on prilosec twice a day and iron 3 times a day. Also, my blood pressure has been rising again, When I had my stomach scoped and the ulcer was found, I was told to cut out the coffee. I have been weaning myself off the past week and am down to 1 cup of maxwell house lite in the morning. Even so, I am still miserable.
Not so much with the headace but with increased aches & pains (I already have fibromalgia which doesn;t help). Hopefully this will let up soon.


I normally drink from 1-3 cups of coffee a day, and it is well known by my entire family that I am a caffeine addict.

I had read somewhere online that caffeine could could menstruation cramps to get worse as one gets closer to their period, so I thought "Maybe just a couple of days wouldn't hurt" so I quit drinking coffee cold turkey.

Much to my surprise, the very next day I was over the toilet in agony. Any medication I took was worthless, as it would come right back up. After the symptoms had died back down, I did the first thing that any coffee adict does, I had a cup, and like magic the flu-like symptoms were gone... Now I know that caffeine addiction is a serious thing and I wonder if it's worth it trying to break the habit :/

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.