What’s Caffeine withdrawal and do I have it?

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There is an estimated 80 percent of adults and children in the U.S who consume the o-so delicious coffee beverage every day. It’s no surprise then to hear that many people actually suffer from caffeine dependence and withdrawal. According to the American Psychiatric Association, Caffeine Withdrawal is an actual disorder that can have medical and psychiatric symptoms (2013).

Caffeine intoxication may help many of us get through some our everyday tasks but what happens when you stop drinking it? Sometimes people decide to stop drinking for medical reasons and to improve their health. Common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include headaches, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, depression, flu-like symptoms, nausea, and difficulty focusing. These symptoms usually occur 12-24 hours after ending caffeine ingestion following prolonged caffeine consumption (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

The good news is that caffeine withdrawal symptoms are not usually serious and are easy to improve if the purpose is to abstain from caffeine drinks. The best route is a slow reduction in the amount of caffeine you partake in every day. Your body will do better in adjusting rather than quitting cold turkey. Second, don’t forget to drink lots of water! Caffeine intoxication can lead to dehydration and water can flush out all the toxins in your body. Also, if it’s the taste of caffeine you love, you can always try going the decaf route. Another helpful treatment is to exercise. Caffeine withdrawal leads to a reduction of the feel good neurotransmitter dopamine and exercise can cause a release of this. Lastly, diet is another important improvement you can make. Eating healthy foods like greens and fruits can improve your energy levels which are lacking when you’re experiencing withdrawal from caffeine.

To sum it up, caffeine withdrawal is a real thing and can have medical and psychiatric consequences. But remember you have options to improve these symptoms if your goal is caffeine cessation. Also, if you have any questions regarding the medical aspects of caffeine intoxication or withdrawal always consult your primary care physician or any other trained medical professional.

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