Caffeine Withdrawal

by on June 13, 2012

Although caffeine is not addictive, it can be habit forming. It has psychoactive effects on humans which make consumers want it. Aside from the inherent effects of caffeine, it also has pleasurable taste and aroma, and significant social aspects. However, experts warn consumers of the potential harm of ingesting too much caffeine.

The recommended daily intake of caffeine is around 200 to 400 mg (about two to three cups of coffee). Taking more than the suggested amount can lead to side effects as well as dependence to caffeine.

People who become dependent to caffeine may feel the need to ingest coffee, or any food product that contains caffeine such as tea or soda drinks, everyday to keep them up. Some people may experience an intense craving for caffeine which can even lead to an overdose, although rarely reported. People who have become dependent on caffeine and then suddenly discontinue taking it can experience disturbing side effects or withdrawal symptoms.

Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms

Some of the common caffeine withdrawal symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Decreased activeness or energy
  • Decreased sense of well-being
  • Depressed mood
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Feeling foggy or fuzzy
  • Loss of focus and concentration
  • Reduced mental alertness and attentiveness
  • Sleepiness
  • Tiredness or fatigue

The onset of withdrawal symptoms usually occurs after 12-24 hours after the last intake of caffeine and the peak intensity about 20-51 hours later. These symptoms can last for two to nine days. The severity of adverse effects depends on the average amount of caffeine consumed, as such; people who have higher caffeine intake are more likely to suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms.

Take note that coffee is not the exclusive source of caffeine. This substance is also found in many other foods and beverages. In fact, decaffeinated products actually contain caffeine.

Treatment of Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms

In general, caffeine withdrawal symptoms are not as intense or dangerous as drug withdrawal symptoms. However, when not carefully treated and managed, it can lead to potentially serious conditions, particularly dependence and overdose.

In order to manage these symptoms, you have to consume caffeine, either with a cup of coffee, tea or chocolate drink. However, this makes quitting caffeine rather challenging for most people. To avoid caffeine withdrawal, you can gradually lower or taper your daily caffeine intake. Experiment and see how low to moderate amounts of caffeine affects you. If you develop unwanted effects while reducing your caffeine dose, consider decreasing your intake at a much gradual pace. Over time, your body will get accustomed to lower caffeine intake and minimize the possibility of withdrawal.