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.


I always understood that

I always understood that caffeine is an appetite suppressant, so your weight gain doesn't surprise me, plus I don't know about you, but since I have been off caffeine, food tastes so GOOD!!! I still go for a walk every day, no matter how bad I feel, so I haven't put on any weight, but I have eaten so healthily for many years now(I have to, I am allergic to every food additive that exists, unfortunately), and I meditate etc etc, I think although all these things obviously help, it is only the passage of time that will cure me of my fatigue, back ache, extreme irritability, leg cramps, stomach problems etc etc. I already feel better than I did on caffeine, because caffeine made me very depressed and I am rarely if ever depressed now, although extreme stress will make me depressed for a very short time now (as opposed to a very very long time before).

If you could get into the habit of walking (you may already be doing this) every day, that would probably help you lose the sedentary habits enforced on you by caffeine wd, I find it difficult to do it every day because my fatigue is so severe, but I just make myself go by thinking of all the benefits of sunlight, fresh air, etc etc. It certainly helps my frame of mind to walk somewhere green and leafy….

I wish that Jackie would let us know how she is getting on with her slow taper, I so wish I had had more patience and come off more slowly. Jackie are you there? I suspect you are the "Anon" who is giving good advice re diet etc etc.

Oh and by the way Mandy, thanks for telling me about how your progress has 'plateaued"
because that is exactly how I feel about mine, and I am so very very far from being back to normal that I KNOW my wd process is not over, so if I were you, I would have faith in the fact that you are still recovering and can look forward to feeling a whole lot better with or without any other huge changes in your lifestyle.

If only I had known what I know now years and years ago, I think it takes longer to recover from anything in your 70's, sod it. ButI am so grateful that I have found out what has been plagueing me for so many years, I expect loads of people never ever suspect their daily cup of tea may be wrecking their health

As you say, pats on the back all round!

oh and by the way, don't forget that the woman who wrote "welcome to the dance" also said (I have posted this before) that because caffeine is fat soluble it takes 3 years to completely clear our bodies.

good to be back on this site,

good to be back on this site, I'm still caffeine free after quitting cold turkey dec 2nd 2013, but still dont feel quite right, its like a malaise now with the woozy full feeling head still, even after a year and still not quite right! so its good to be back reading the posts because this is the only reassurance that really resonates, works for me, so thank you. i read them over and tick off all the "symptoms" people have but all the same thoughts too, all the worries, all the hopes, just the same. and it calms me, takes me out of my self and encourages me. dyou know i wouldnt dare use caffeine again, ive become scared of it, bit dramatic yes, because of how i felt coming off it i guess. i was at a friends house over xmas and they were brewing coffee and i said, in a very over the top patronising way: this smells like poison, cant you smell it, you think it smells nice.. I've gone mad i think. but thanks again everyone, keep posting, its helps so much.


Hello, again, Mandy. :) My reaction to your continuing symptoms was - how long were you having caffeine and what level of caffeine were you having? If, like 60 YH, you were imbibing for a long time, it will take time to heal and I've read that it's not a straight line of healing - there are dips and curves etc. It's not dramatic at all to say you're scared of coffee (I've had terrible fear about my addiction) and we know what damage it can do and how addictive it can be. I thought I'd been a failure in taking nearly 3 years to get off it - but I read about one guy who took 13 years! It really is insidious stuff and I wish I was scared like you, Mandy, it would have meant that stopping would have been easier. But, know this, you HAVE stopped and your body and brain ARE both healing. I also do genuinely understand the last part of your post - I became obsessive about how bad caffeine is for you and talked to people about it (ironic, I know, as I've still been drinking it!) ....and, also, about the dangers of junk food/sugar etc. I think it comes from our obsession in wanting to either get off it or our worry about what it's done/doing to our health - so we project it outwards. I also think that when you've investigated caffeine and realise that it really IS poison (and that's how it acts, in the berry), there's a kind a disbelief and anger that it's such an accepted cultural phenomenon...........here we all are (or were), sitting around, drinking it like we're on Friends or something and that it's cool. Well, that's the marketing for you - because it makes a lot of money and then the dopamine rush makes you go out and buy stuff - a well-know marketing ploy. Anyway, I digress.......so see you on another post!


This is gonna be TMI but anyone suffer from virtually no libido before getting off of caffeine? I suffer from adrenal fatigue and candida and of course caffeine is a huge culprit.

I'm only on day 11. I went cold turkey for 4 days. Then had 6 Oz of coffee per day and now dropped all coffee for 11 days. I have cheated twice with a small coke. Not sure how much it has set me back. I'm up at 3 am again but have 9.5 hours of work tomorrow.

I've also lost a lot of weight, anhedonia, and such from depression. Meds just make things worse.

I'm in fear that I won't stick with this. I've read it takes 2 months. 3 months for adrenal fatigue but it see several cases of this taking several months to 1 to 2 years. I'm afraid I won't last that long.

Hi everyone

Hi everyone

I have really enjoyed reading your comments, and I would like to thank you all for sharing your stories.

I am a 33 year old woman who has consumed caffeine in one form or another all her life. When I was in my 20s my coffee consumption really got away on me. I was very naïve to the potential for harm, I really wish more people would talk about it.

Anyway, I have been trying to quit for a while now and have established that cold turkey is disastrous for me. The anxiety is horrendous. So I have cut back to one small flat white for now and even though that is enough to cause withdrawal it is manageable. My plan is to stabilise on that and then go for half strength etc. I know this isn't ideal, but I can't seem to function doing it cold turkey.

Hope to chat to you all soon.

And here's to a healthier 2015 for us all!

Hi On my way, I had to do the

Hi On my way, I had to do the same thing, (go back on and come off more slowly) for the same reasons, and it was easier, so I think you did the right thing. I just wish I had had access to all this info when I was your age, I am in my seventies now, and I have been off for 21 months and am still feeling crap, but not as bad as when I started. I think the length of time one has been consuming this toxic drug must affect the time it takes to recover, so you an be sure it won't take you this long, lucky you…..

Best wishes for 2015 to all struggling with caffeine!

a comment from

a comment from Smithsonian.com:

you only need to get through about 7-12 days of symptoms without drinking any caffeine. If you can make it that long, your addiction will be broken.
Yyyyyessss, it's just that simple! Bulk wrap.

I started drinking coffee in university. Landed in hospital once when the regular barista at my regular coffee place gave me a 6-shot mocha one morning. Doctor told me to quit. I kept right on. It took me many, many failed attempts over more than 13 years to kick caffeine. No matter whether I went cold turkey or tapered down to zero intake, the relentless symptoms lasted for weeks—much longer than 12 days—and eventually I would pick up a cup of coffee because I couldn't think, concentrate, or get anything done; I couldn't function and the bills and incomplete work would pile up. And that one cup would invariably make the next day's cup almost impossible to resist.

From time to time I managed to quit for a couple of months and the withdrawal symptoms would start to go away, then for whatever reason within 2 days I was back to daily use. Despite the obvious negative health effects—the gastrointestinal upset, the disrupted sleep cycle, the energy peaks and valleys all day long—I kept relapsing.

Finally, after many years, many quits, and many relapses, I kicked it for good. I no longer consume caffeine—not even "decaf" coffee, which just contains less caffeine, not no caffeine. I guess there may be inconsequential amounts in dark chocolate I sometimes eat, but that's it.

Do I miss coffee? Yup, sometimes I still do, and most of all I miss coffee ice cream. I found a decaffeinated brand and gave it a try; it was delicious, but the next morning brought the familiar old uphill struggle to get out of bed. Apparently I am enduringly hypersensitive to even small amounts of caffeine. But life is much, much better without it. I wake easily in the morning; it's no longer a hideous, painful struggle to drag myself out of bed and I am no longer a slave to the coffee machine (nor is my wallet a slave to the coffee shop). I no longer hit that zero-energy wall in the afternoon. Both ends of my gut are much happier; no more heartburn, no more acid reflux, no more gobbling Tums like candy, no more running to the washroom. My urine doesn't stink as it did.

3 years to recover!! I am not

3 years to recover!! I am not alone, so relieved to read this post on Corbett Barr"s blog:

February 7, 2010 at 11:12 am
A london bank had the most excellent espresso in little cardboard shot cups. I drank these as doubles. One lunchtime I counted 20 – twenty – little cups lined up on my desk. At that point I decided to give up. Cold turkey – No tea or coffee. It was hell. The first 3 months I was a mess – the biggest problems were head aches, lack of concentration, fatigue. It took about 3 years to totally get over it. During that time if I had one sip I could feel the effects for 3 days. Now a tiramisu will still keep me awake all night. I gave up 10 years ago.
I do feel a lot better now.
I hated the thought of being addicted to something.

I should have added that if

I should have added that if we want our guts to get back to normal asap, taking meds will only disrupt our systems even more.

Plus I am even more sensitive to any meds atm because of caffeine wd, so that makes things even worse if I take them.

Stomach Issues

Anyone having stomach issues several months after going off caffeine?

I'm at the six month mark and I'm having acid stomach/GERD, bloating, and general discomfort almost daily. I've been taking omeprazole for about six weeks now, as well drinking kefir and eating yogurt, with limited success on easing thing up.

Anyone experience anything similar?

Comment viewing options

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