Caffeine Withdrawal and Safely "Quitting"
Whenever the American Psychiatric Association updates the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), its changes are sure to raise some eyebrows. The DSM-V was no exception; many of its changes raised eyebrows, few moreso than its suggestion that caffeine addiction and withdrawal were diagnosable mental disorders.
It's not easy putting the brakes on your coffee habit.The controversy is an understandable one; after all, nobody likes to be told that their casual coffee habit is a mental disorder. It's worth noting, however, that while caffeine has health benefits, it is also physiologically and psychologically addictive. As with any other addictive substance, not everyone takes to caffeine in quite the same way. Some people are able to indulge in moderation, while for others, the same caveat applies to caffeiene as coffee: "One's too many, ten's not enough." People might decide to "quit" coffee, or caffeine more generally, for any number of reasons. For some, it's a matter of ditching a caffeine addiction. For others, there can be compelling medical reasons (such as pregnancy, heart problems, anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes, or interactions with medication) to consider. For still others, there can even be a religious or spiritual dimension (such as giving up coffee for Lent). Because caffeine can act much the same as nicotine, it's vital to be careful about how you go about quitting. The reason for that is that caffeine withdrawal brings with it symptoms that range from unpleasant to downright nasty, typically within 24 hours of interrupting or decreasing caffeine intake. These include:
- Sleepiness or drowsiness
- Impaired concentration
- Muscle aches and stiffness