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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.

Does my child have ADHD?

Blog Pic 1Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is diagnosed when there is a constellation of 6 or more inattentive or hyperactive symptoms (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Commonly seen symptoms of the inattentive type include difficulty sustaining attention, making careless mistakes in school work, being easily distracted, seemingly uninterested when spoken to, and illustrating difficulties in organizing tasks.  A child with the hyperactive presentation often seems fidgety, gets up frequently when should remain seated, is overly talkative, shows difficulty in remaining still for an extended period of time, and runs or climbs when inappropriate. At times, you can see a combined presentation of inattentive and hyperactive symptoms.

There is a great deal of conflicting information out there about ADHD. Is it always ADHD when a child presents with inattention or hyperactivity? Well the answer is NO. Symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and poor executive functioning skills could also be related to anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, trauma, life stressors, and more.

It is important to identify when the symptoms started. Perhaps Johnny’s lack of ability to sit still in the classroom is related to a recent death in the family or bullying from someone in his school. Second, are there other symptoms present? For instance, does your child also present with lack of motivation, little interest in doing things he/she usually enjoyed, withdrawal from others, and difficulty sleeping? This could be indicative of a depressive disorder. Lastly, we also want to isolate where the problem behaviors are occurring. Is it happening across all settings (e.g. school, home, and community) or is the child displaying inattention only at school? There could be something happening in that environment that is causing the symptoms.  It is also important to get an evaluation by a physician to rule out any medical conditions that could potentially be the root of these symptoms.

We are complex beings and are shaped by our life experiences as well as our inherent characteristics. Therefore, it is often unclear what is going on. We do not want to label a child as having a disorder when we are not absolutely certain mainly because the diagnosis impacts the treatment. If we are treating the wrong disorder, we cannot have effective results. In this case, neuropsychological testing is helpful because it can tease out what the actual issue is through a battery of standardized, valid, and reliable testing procedures.

There is hope! Once you identify what is going on, you can move towards treatment to improve the symptoms. And if it turns out that your child does have ADHD, there are successful treatments that can allow your child to live a healthy and productive life.