Is Caffeine Withdrawal a Real Illness?

Throwing back too many Red Bulls? You could be at risk for a certain type of mental disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Excessive caffeine intake can lead to a condition known as “caffeine intoxication,” and the morning after may bring caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and difficulty focusing.

“There are enough people who go into withdrawal that if they don’t get caffeine, it becomes a real syndrome and can affect work, sleep, or whatever they need to do," said DSM-5 work group member Alan J. Budney in 2011, when it was announced that caffeine withdrawal would become a bonafide mental condition worthy of professional consideration.

Do you know when you've had enough?:

  • Symptoms of a caffeine buzz include restlessness, nervousness, insomnia, flushed face, muscle twitches, rambling thought and speech, tachycardia or cardiac arrhythmia, and psychomotor agitation.

  • Caffeine is everywhere, even in pain relievers, and it can range from as much as 160 milligrams in energy drinks to as little as 4 milligrams in a 1-ounce serving of chocolate-flavored syrup. Even decaffeinated coffee isn't completely free of caffeine.

  • Not everyone agrees that this is a mental disorder. “The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are transitory, they take care of themselves,” said clinical psychologist Robin Rosenberg. “It’s just a natural response to stopping caffeine, and it clears up on its own in short order.”

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More Info: Time

Discuss this Article

Post 6

Yes, it is very addictive. Some people need to drink it every morning or they get a blasting headache.

Post 5

It is no doubt a physical addiction, but what makes a person to become addicted to something is a person's mentality. Any addiction can be cured with a strong mind, something to do with psychology.

Post 3

It is a physical addiction with physical withdrawal symptoms. This is asinine to call this a mental disorder. I am saying this as a medical professional.

Post 2

Caffeine is a drug, just like nicotine. Notice the "ine" on the end of both words? Of course caffeine causes physical addiction. It should not be in a book about psychiatry!

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