Maybe you have experienced it or not, but you heard about caffeine withdrawal? What does it mean? What are caffeine withdrawal symptoms? Can caffeine have similar effects to drugs or is it just a term that explains the yearning for a cup of coffee?
The latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM -5) recognizes caffeine withdrawal as a medical diagnosis that can produce some negative symptoms because caffeine has addictive potential and stimulatory properties.
Of course, caffeine is not life-threatening like alcohol or drugs, but it still can create addiction. One study says that 90% of US adults use coffee regularly and they consume on average 200 mg which equals two cups of coffee per day. As Eva Selhub says:
“Anyone who drinks caffeine regularly and then stops suddenly can be prone to having withdrawal symptoms.”
If you want to cut back on coffee, it’s important to do it gradually to minimize side effects. Here are some symptoms of caffeine withdrawal that you can expect in case you want to quit drinking coffee.
Headaches and Fatigue
If you skip your regular morning coffee, it can cause the blood vessels in the brain to constrict. When you stop consuming coffee, this has a direct impact on blood flow to your brain.
Additionally, you drink coffee to give you energy. Yes, you like the taste and comfort that one hot cup of coffee gives you, but a cup of coffee gives you energy. Several different studies showed that caffeine increases alertness while decreasing fatigue whether we consume caffeine in large or moderate doses. When you reduce caffeine intake, you can experience fatigue and headaches especially if your body is used to getting its daily dosage of caffeine.
Changes in Mood and Difficulty to Concentrate
Caffeine has stimulating properties and it can increase dopamine sensitivity in our brain. When you decrease caffeine intake dopamine levels will drop. This can lead to a depressed, irritable, and anxious mood.
Caffeine also boosts mental focus. Sleep-deprived individuals who consume caffeine regularly were able to improve their concentration and accuracy in their performance. Instead of relying on coffee for concentration, we should be focusing more on sleep or switch to adaptogenic tea which can help us concentrate better.
You might experience symptoms such as nausea, myalgia (muscle pain), dizziness, or even vomiting. These are common symptoms of any type of addiction.
How Long Does Caffeine Withdrawal Last?
According to a study from John Hopkins Medicine, caffeine withdrawal symptoms can occur after 12 or 24 hours after stopping and they can last for approximately between two and ten days.
How to Deal with Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms?
The best way to deal with withdrawal symptoms is to gradually reduce caffeine intake instead of quitting cold turkey.
You can reduce your caffeine intake by a half cup every week. You can replace regular coffee with decaf and you should drink more water during this period to deal with caffeine symptoms.
One study suggests exercise can help with managing symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. Exercise will increase the level of dopamine and serotonin which can significantly drop when you decrease caffeine intake. Also, getting enough sleep and spending some time in nature can have positive effects when someone is experiencing caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, eating a balanced diet, rich in antioxidants such as dark chocolate may help. That’s experts’ advice we are all ready to follow.
It’s important to remember that caffeine affects everyone differently. Caffeine can provide you with a lot of health benefits but like anything else you have to make sure you don’t consume too much coffee.
There are other options as well, such as green tea which is high in antioxidants and it’s proven that it can reduce inflammation. On the other side, coffee has protective benefits when it comes to diabetes, obesity, and dementia. For others, coffee can increase anxiety or disrupt sleep. There are positive and negative effects of drinking coffee and everyone reacts to it differently. In case, caffeine negatively impacts your body and your mood, you might need to consider quitting. Be mindful of all caffeine withdrawal symptoms and make sure you cut it out slowly.