Caffeine Withdrawal Is Now a Mental Disorder

Does it really belong in a guide devoted to mental disorders?

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We’ve all probably had that one coffee drink (or carbonated beverage) too many, at that point in a slog of a day where we’ve gone and imbibed a Red Bull or Grande coffee against our better judgment.

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According to a new edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders out last week (DSM, or in this case, DSM-5), that sort of excessive caffeine intake can lead to a condition known as “caffeine intoxication,” except it’s nothing like the sort of blissful stupor we tend to associate with that other sort of intoxication.

If you’ve had more than 250 mg of caffeine (two to three cups of brewed coffee) and experienced five or more of the following symptoms, says the guide, you’ve probably been caffeine-buzzed: restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diuresis (having to pee a lot), gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, tachycardia or cardiac arrhythmia, periods of inexhaustibility or psychomotor agitation (unintentional motion, say, rapidly bouncing one leg).

This disorder, as it’s described in both the older DSM-IV and new DSM-5, falls under the heading “Caffeine-Related Disorders,” but in DSM-5, that section includes a new entry: caffeine withdrawal. According to DSM-5, symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include fatigue, headache and difficulty focusing.

“Caffeine is a drug, a mild stimulant, which is used by almost everybody on a daily basis,” said Dr. Charles O’Brien, who chairs the Substance-Related Disorder Work Group for DSM-5 (via New York Post). “But it does have a letdown afterwards. If you drink a lot of coffee, at least two or three [236 ml] cups at a time, there will be a rebound or withdrawal effect.”

Anyone who’s binged on caffeine then stopped, cold turkey, knows the withdrawal symptoms are anything but make-believe — the headaches alone can be excruciating. The question some are asking is whether it belongs in a guide devoted to mental disorders (or, for that matter, whether caffeine intoxication does).

“The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are transitory, they take care of themselves,” said clinical psychologist Robin Rosenberg (via International Science Times), noting that the effects are temporary. “It’s just a natural response to stopping caffeine, and it clears up on its own in short order.”

DSM-5 work-group member Alan J. Budney attempted to address the controversy back in December 2011, when caffeine withdrawal was announced as being “recommended for inclusion” in the revised guide.

“We feel that there is enough data to support a caffeine-withdrawal syndrome,” said Budney. “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. So we’re suggesting that it ‘make the big leagues’ and become part of the DSM to make sure everyone is aware of it.”

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63 comments
Mortal-Human-Life
Mortal-Human-Life

Yes, caffeine withdrawal syndrome is a real human health condition, and more people become aware of it, more people may start to understand their own or others erratic, irrational behaviors, irritation, pain and aches, fatigue...

Caffeine is a psychoactive drug, that has a profound effect on the body acting on central nervous system, by blocking adenosine receptors. It increases the release of dopamine, glutamate, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonine and cortisol.

To say it simply, caffeine changes neurochemical activity in the brain that leads to physiological changes in the whole body.

thommy2123
thommy2123

Find out the truth. PSYCHIATRY IS A FRAUD!!!!! Go to www cchr.com and find out about it

CharmaineO
CharmaineO

i'm going through this right now, and it's a pain-in-the-ass to deal with. i've been off coffee for 2 weeks now, but i still get all the symptoms. and when i take in caffeinated drinks by accident, i get back that terrible feeling like i'm getting nauseated or having panic attacks. i've thought all along it was vertigo or some kind of anxiety problem, but i guess i've just been buzzed for over a year now and just don't know it. 


well it would be stupid to say if you're caffeine intoxicated means you're crazy, i only diagnosed myself (i'm very particular with food i eat and i exercise, and the only thing odd about my diet is too much coffee) but it would be helpful if you get a recommendation from a psychiatrist to get off work for a bit cuz for well over a year i get terrified just being alone going to work cuz "something bad" might happen to me or something. better rest up at home, get the caffeine completely out of your system and get better.

Jason-Pace
Jason-Pace

"The research also showed that avoidance of caffeine withdrawal symptoms motivates regular use of caffeine. http://goo.gl/SCNVEY - For example, the satisfying feelings and perceived benefits that many coffee users experience from their morning coffee appear to be a simple reversal of the negative effects of caffeine withdrawal after overnight abstinence." -John Hopkins University

Herlina
Herlina

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SophiaShapira
SophiaShapira

I hear over and over that there is no real such thing as caffeine "addiction", it's just a "dependency". I would like them to explain to us, the masses, what obscure technical aspect of the definition of the term "addiction" isn't met if there is someone who, no matter how many times she goes through the ringer of withdrawal keeps getting hooked on caffeine again.

MkKantor
MkKantor

WHY is this suddenly news worthy? Caffeine related disorders, including withdrawal and intoxication, has been in the DSM IV TR which came out in 2000. So people have been diagnosed with this for years if they meet criteria and it causes impairment in functioning. I am so confused as to why people are suddenly discussing this in 2013 and shocked that this is newsworthy for a publication like Time Magazine. Seriously find something better. 

cantiloper
cantiloper

The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are transitory, they take care of themselves,” said clinical cyclopodrist WhosieWhatsis, noting that the effects are temporary. “It’s just a natural response to stopping nicotine, and it clears up on its own in short order.”

Funny.  That's not exactly the quote, is it?  Hmmm... Oh!  I see.  I mixed up innocent caffeine, which we feed to our kids in candy and sodas everyday and imbibe at our desks throughout our productive workdays, with evil, evil, nicotine... a drug that's pretty similar chemically but which Science tells us was created by Satan.  Hmmm...  I wonder how many caffeiene addicts (basically anyone who indulges most days of the week) started using this gateway drug as children (i.e. under 18 or 21)?  Think it might be over smoking's 80%?  

The problem could be solved easily: a tobacco style 400% tax on sodas would price them out of the range of most children and perhaps slow down the drug intake by adults as well.  Sodas etc. should be put in plain, puke green bottles, with 75% of the bottle area covered with grossly overweight people showing off their bed sores and such things, and of course all advertising/sale/use/display of such should be prohibited in any sports venue or shown on TV or in the movies.

Just a few small changes... for a much happier and healthier world!  :)  Who could possibly object?

Michael J. McFadden, 
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

RickyRoss
RickyRoss

This is about as ridiculous as the other new disorder recently being publicized..."Shift Work Disorder".  When reading all of this nonsense they are putting out these days, refer back to "The 45 Declared Goals of Communism To Takeover America"...as read before the US Congress in 1963.  Everything that is wrong with the USA is a product of that script which the CORRUPT government, at all levels, is following.  Search for the 45 goals with your search engine and you will see what I am talking about...for now, I will post the two goals that apply to the article above...

The Communist Takeover Of America - 45 Declared Goals

Communist Goals Congressional Record--Appendix, pp. A34-A35 January 10, 1963   

Current Communist Goals EXTENSION OF REMARKS OF HON. A. S. HERLONG, JR. OF FLORIDA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Thursday, January 10, 1963 .  

 Mr. HERLONG. Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Patricia Nordman of De Land, Fla., is an ardent and articulate opponent of communism, and until recently published the De Land Courier, which she dedicated to the purpose of alerting the public to the dangers of communism in America. 

#38) Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand or treat.   

#39) Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.


pyramidgravityforce
pyramidgravityforce

The pharmecutical industry wants everyone to take pills, once this caffein withdrawals go into scare tactic mode, people will by their pills to avaoide withrawals. Wlecome to the machine, keep hitting the rat feeder bar for another pellet.............

Sdcausa
Sdcausa

New gun laws prevent gun ownership by people with "mental disorders". Looks like they just gave some nice legal cover for disqualifying millions from owning guns because they "are or gave in the past been treated by a psychologist for a mental disorder. Thus is a stroke of brilliance for the anti-gun folks, well played!! Now go get those folks that have medical marijuana, used many different prescriptions or have ever served in the military. Pretty soon nobody will qualify to keep their Second Amendment rights. Then use the same logic amendment by amendment to do the same to the rest of folks. Nobody should be able to blog if they are classified as having a mental disorder. Brilliant!

pjcostello
pjcostello

That's INSANE. Physical withdrawal -- and I've experienced it myself with caffeine -- is exactly that: PHYSICAL. There's absolutely nothing mental about it. These idiots are trying to make EVERYTHING into a mental disorder!!! Just remember: If everything is a disorder, then nothing is a disorder.

Didi
Didi

I did the math and discovered a single cup of my morning brew contains about 320 mg of caffeine.  That's a real cup, not those wussy little six-ounce cuplets.  I freely admit that I'm dependent; if not for a steady diet of caffeine and salt I'd be taking salt pills for my low blood pressure.  Given the choice between dark roasted ambrosia and horse pills full of salt guess which one I'm going to pick.  The best way to treat caffeine withdrawal is to keep drinking your coffee (or caffeinated beverage of choice).

MickeyCashen
MickeyCashen

I had a headache and anxiousness for two straight weeks when I quit drinking coffee in the 1980's while following the "Pritikin Promise" - the big diet of the decade.  I was almost as hard as quitting smoking.  Soon I read good things about coffee and decided I needed my fix in the morning.  For a couple decades, I've made 20 oz of coffee in a 4-cup drink cofffee maker most mornings and I'm sure I'd suffer withdrawal again if I quit.

RanchoDelValkayrie
RanchoDelValkayrie

I thank the APA for giving me now a justifiable reason for getting on disability.  Rack me up as one of the record number receiving it now

KingOfTheKeurig
KingOfTheKeurig

"So we’re suggesting that it ‘make the big leagues’ and become part of the DSM to make sure everyone is aware of it.”

Yeah, 'make the big leagues' so that a drug can be developed for Big Pharma to rake it in.

UliRike
UliRike

Fortunately for all of us coffee drinkers the opinions about what caffeine actually is are made up in the mind of 'man'. The disorder is not the consumption of the caffeine and its so-called withdrawal symptoms. The mental disorder lies in those who are trying to analyse the effects and then stamp it as 'such and such'. The mental disorder of trying to find fault with natural substances, catalog them and classify them as legal or illegal is the disorder they ought to be looking at. Its not the Java Junkie who has a mental disorder - its the one who points the finger that is afflicted by it. 

MaxFlynn
MaxFlynn

The problem isn't that such data is included in a diagnostic and statistical manual (for some reason people realize what the 'D' and 'S' actually stand for, even when noted), but instead the often times idiotic conclusions people try to infer.

Just look at the comments.  Posters think you can call out of work because this data is included.  That's a fantastic example of a particularly ignorant view.  

Or the comments claiming it's an attempt to push pharmaceuticals.  Not only do pharmaceutical companies have no influence in DSM drafts, but there are in fact no pharmaceutical recommendations anywhere in the DSM.  

The reason caffeine intoxication, and withdraw, is included in a statistical manual is because there's statistical evidence.  

Most of the 'controversy' surrounding the DSM, yet again, has less to do with any controversy within the relevant fields, but instead a basic lack of understanding of the material in question.  

RajivRiccardoThakar
RajivRiccardoThakar

If anyone is trying to cut down their caffeine consumption, check out www.cranegrains.com. 

khaledmourad99
khaledmourad99

i drink a lot of coffee (Nesscafe  in lst 3 Espresso) and many diet Cola drinks a da  for 25 years, when i travel some times i don't drink any, no problem

LeThuyTao
LeThuyTao

I always have a glass of coffee-morning with some ice in it at home. To be honest, I don't like coffee with milk or sugar added. Coffee makes me feel ok to do a lot of things through the day. As far as I know, coffee isn't harmful if we don't drink too much.

TuckYeah
TuckYeah

For those who agree that this is ridiculous, check out this vid: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2013/s3763502.htm
"Dr Allen Frances who supervised the fourth edition of the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM 4), nineteen years ago, discusses the latest edition which he says turns normal behaviour into mental illness."

bastardo
bastardo

The writer of this article has a mental disorder.

mr.quan
mr.quan

I use caffeine to treat my mild ADD

HollyKick
HollyKick

Now tomorrow there will be a news that drinking 10 cups of coffee in a day can avoid cancer and then ADA will be American Dental Association.

Mortal-Human-Life
Mortal-Human-Life

@thommy2123 What particular "truth" you are suggesting? Have you ever heard of objective observation? Well, that is what science does. Psychiatry is a legitimate science, not fraud as you named it. Maybe you have been suffering with your own delusions and are in denial of it and thus you choose to blame science....


I am grateful for science, including moral and ethical psychiatry done by people, whose aim is to understand various human conditions and help suffering people, who are not able to help themselves.


Be aware, there are many paranoid people out there, who are suffering themselves and not getting treatment. Often, these people may be spreading viral messages that have no real scientific, objective value...

shmliz
shmliz

@SophiaShapira To simplify, addiction is a mental problem (the drug user has difficulty controlling their impulses when seeking the drug, in spite of awareness of the negative effects of the drug), whereas dependance is a physical reaction (your body gets used to what the drug is doing to it, and when the drug is stopped, basically the opposite effects are experienced. For example, caffeine makes a very effective treatment for headache and other pains, which is one of the reasons headaches are such a problematic symptom of caffeine withdrawal).

But I see your point, and I agree with you; caffeine dependance is undeniable, but I do believe there are elements of psychological dependance involved (irritability and depression causing those trying to give up caffeine to go back to it over and over again) and to deny it is irresponsible on the parts of the authorities involved. But the caffeine industry is quite lucrative.... Anyway, if cravings are experienced during periods of not using the drug, that's a pretty good sign of addiction.

I think it's misleading of doctors and such to label things that create a dependance as non-addicting, because many people don't know the difference. This is why so many people are reassured that "this antidepressant is non-addicting" and so a few months later, they decide to stop taking it because they feel better, and land themselves in the hospital with seizures and other potentially life-threatening withdrawal effects, because no one stopped to explain that non-addicting doesn't mean easy to quit. To many people, the idea that "your body has grown to need this" translates directly to "you are addicted to this".

In any case, I think it's silly to label withdrawal a mental disorder. Everything is a mental disorder, now. Whatever happened to people being people with different quirks and experiencing bad things and good things that just HAPPEN. The world is getting ridiculous with its need to label everything it doesn't want to understand or think about.

NoOneSpecialDarling
NoOneSpecialDarling

@MkKantor Hmmm maybe because in 2000 people barely had the internet, no youtube...can you imagine what time.com looked like back then? Its news worthy my dear because now everyone has a phone in their pocket to connect to the internet with and most of us are sitting on our butts behind a computer, drinking coffee. 

Think before you speak nonsense. 

TimNFtWayne
TimNFtWayne

@pjcostello Where does the physical disorder occur? In your brain.
I'd say all mental disorders are also physical disorders.

pjcostello
pjcostello

@MickeyCashenRight -- you suffered physical symptoms for a (relatively) short amount of time. Those symptoms dissipated and disappeared; therefore, it's not a mental disorder.

Bobby41
Bobby41

The psychiatrists creating the disorders are being paid by the pharmaceutical companies! If it's a disorder a drug can be prescribed for it. Do your research and gain a full understanding of the FACTS and what is going on in the industry. Psychiatrists are paid large amounts to promote certain drugs by pharmacy companies. Many on the DSM Board panel were exposed as receiving payments from pharmacy companies. University psychiatry departments also receive most of their funding from pharma companies, so the courses are being influenced to teach how to prescribe the 'right' drugs for disorders, rather than how to help a patient get to the root cause of an issue and resolve it with them through counselling. There will probably be (or already is) a new drug created by pharma companies, approved by the FDA and prescribed for caffeine withdrawal, which will just be repackaged as a specific drug for it; just like they did with the extreme PMT disorder in women as stated in the DSM - a specific drug was created by a pharma co and packaged up to appeal to women with the 'disorder', approved by FDA then promoted heavily. On analysis the drug was proven to have exactly the same ingredients as the anti depressant Prozac! So it was just Prozac in new packaging and the women didn't know they were taking anti depressants! There is a real problem with the industry - it's just legalised drug pushing and the drugs do not in many cases resolve the problem! Myself and others who think like me are not paranoid conspiracy theorists - we are intelligent well informed individuals who can see what's really going on.

ssenerch
ssenerch

@MaxFlynn I hope you're enjoying sounding "smart."  Your post is a jumble of bull$hit though.  Pretty much every point you tried to put forth is laughable, and that's all I'll say because I doubt you're the kind of person who can be swayed by facts or logical argument....


Have a nice night....

MarkElron
MarkElron

@MaxFlynn Big Pharma's poison is doled out through the lunacy of the DSM! The DSM is about NOTHING BUT Big Pharma!!

MarkHolland
MarkHolland

@MaxFlynn Pharmaceutical companies have very real influence over the DSM.Psychiatrists take more money per capita from pharmaceutical companies than any other medical specialists and that money is "given" for a reason: it increases sales by "educating" psychiatrists about new indications for "new" disease entities, specifically those entities created by DSM. Nearly everyone who had hand a hand in writing the DSM has financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry; ties that would cripple them at any serious scientific publication. I suspect you have a pony in the race and so, at the risk of offending you let me offer that the DSM5 is deeply tainted by corruption.

artemis133
artemis133

@LeThuyTao Agree 100%. I have one large, strong cup of coffee in the morning to get me going, then maybe a caffeinated soda at work in the evening to keep me energized enough. Moderation in all things is the key!

RanchoDelValkayrie
RanchoDelValkayrie

@HollyKick 

Actually to receive health benefits of coffee you need to drink a minimum of 7 cups of coffee a day.  Coffee is actually very good for your health.  Its false that it affects your blood pressure or heart.  It is high in acid which is good for your ph balance which is they best health benefit of coffee.

pjcostello
pjcostello

@TimNFtWayne Ummmm, that's factually incorrect. A concussion, by way of example, is a physical injury to the head, right? SOMETIMES it leads to actual mental problems later in life, sometimes it doesn't -- the fact that the physical injury is separate and distinct from the mental problems which may occur defines the difference between the two states. If I am feeling blue, I don't go to my family doctor; if I have a cold, I don't go see a psychiatrist. The physical and the mental have always been understood to be distinct from one another, and this caffeine-withdrawal thing is a transparent and weak -- really weak -- attempt to link them.

pjcostello
pjcostello

@cleverlyc @UliRike I don't think it has anything to do with denial, but with the valid point that we cannot simply be left alone to decide what to do with our bodies -- provided we're not affecting other people. This decision is simply insane on its face. Aspirin will be next, because you can actually experience 'rebound headaches' by taking it too often. Then comes... what? Tea? Grapes? 

Discussant
Discussant

@MarkElron @MaxFlynn 

Don't forget, Big Pharma is impotent without doctors doing the prescribing. Big pharma's job is to make profits. Doctors' jobs is to protect the health of their patients.

MaxFlynn
MaxFlynn

@MarkHolland @MaxFlynn No, not really.  This is fairly old hat even.  Over the years people have brought attention to all sorts of issues relating to medicine, in general, and the pharmaceutical companies.  This is just an area where they overly apply theories.  Even within this very thread you can find a link to someone who disagree significantly with the process as it pertains to the DSM - V, and yet the doctor in question brushes the issue of pharmaceutical companies as well.  

I love this part of the argument.  Pharmaceutical reps are are educating psychiatrists about 'entities' created by the DSM.  They're informing psychiatrists, psychologists and researchers what's in the DSM and also telling them to put in also.  No offense, but I've been hearing that argument, that patently incoherent argument, for far too long.

Your claim about ties financial ties to pharmaceutical companies is not completely and entirely false, it greatly exemplifies the actually ignorance of those making claims about the reality of the situation.  What you claimed there is a complete and out-right lie.  Not only is it not true that such individuals wouldn't be cripled from serious scientific publication, but they are in fact, in bulk, made up of the top academics in the field whom in reality publish at a far higher rate.  

Great example of making it up as you go along, you got it exactly wrong, literally completely backwards.

And you're questioning my  motives?  You need to inform yourself of the even the most basic information relating to this topic.  Your approach of making it up as you go is obvious.

shmliz
shmliz

@RanchoDelValkayrie @HollyKick ...and as someone who has consumed quite a lot of caffeine (over time and in one sitting), I want to call bs on what you just wrote. I can *feel* my heart beat faster when I drink coffee. I test bp regularly, and it is always higher after caffeine consumption. Not to mention that it is entirely possible to OD on caffeine (I did), and let me tell you, it is a terrifying experience.

Moderation, please. Please don't tell people to drink a minimum of 7 cups of coffee a day >.<

ssenerch
ssenerch

@MaxFlynn 
 Seriously?  Seriously?  You're the one who hasn't got a clue what in god's name you're talking about.  Everything you've said, the truth is pretty much the complete opposite.  Nice work.

And whoever gave you 2 likes is sadly just as ignorant.

MaxFlynn
MaxFlynn

@MarkHolland @MaxFlynn I wasn't aggressive, nor was it substituting anything or bait.

My post, clearly, stands for itself.  You posted misinformation, some of it quite obvious.

Molecular biology?  How about tuna-melts?  

If we're going to, basically, post random issues/topics, I'd prefer tuna-melts since they're so yummy.

MarkHolland
MarkHolland

@MaxFlynn @MarkHollandAggressiveness is a poor substitute for a winning argument. It's also poor bait. Final term of the day: "MOLECULAR BIOLOGY".  Read about it. End of discussion.