Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms: Top Ten
If you are an avid coffee or energy drink consumer then you are aware of how addicting caffeinated beverages can be.
A few hours after missing your scheduled dose the caffeine withdrawal symptoms start to set in.
Last year I did a caffeine detox and it wasn’t pretty for me nor the people I live with and it seems like the more caffeine a person consumes, the greater the intensity and duration of the withdrawal.
We decided to put together a list of the most common caffeine withdrawal symptoms so when you’re experiencing them, you’ll be comforted to know that you aren’t really dying but just detoxing from the caffeine.
Also, for those who aren’t normally caffeine drinkers, these symptoms can be noticed after quitting caffeine even if it was only consumed for a few days in a row.
Top 10 Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms
A caffeine headache usually starts behind the eyes and then moves up the front of the head.
This just isn’t your normal tiredness, this is sitting up straight but still can’t keep your eyes open tiredness.
Everyone and everything gets on your last nerve. It’s best just to lock yourself in your room during this stage.
Forget about productivity at this stage because you’ll be unmotivated to do anything.
Caffeine stimulates the bowel, so without its daily does the colon gets a little cranky too.
Caffeine withdrawal can take away all hope for living. Temporary blues are one thing, but if you already struggle with depression this could be a big issue.
- Muscle Pain/Stiffness
If you normally have some caffeine prior to exercise then during caffeine withdrawal you could feel as though your muscles have weights strapped to them.
- Lack of Concentration
Forget school, studying, brain surgery, or jet engine repair during this stage of withdrawal.
- Flu-like symptoms
Stuffy nose, blocked sinuses and even vomiting have been reported by people withdrawing from caffeine.
Some people are strange and actually can’t sleep when going through caffeine withdrawal.
Detoxing is No Laughing Matter
Caffeine withdrawal isn’t a laughing matter and it, for sure, is a very unpleasant experience. Luckily these symptoms only last a few days to a week so there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
However, even after the withdrawal period is over, I personally still never feel quite as good as I do when I’m drinking caffeine all of the time. This is most likely due to the changes that occur with the dopamine receptors in the brain because of caffeine. I guess mine might be forever altered.
Giving up caffeine isn’t easy and the withdrawal symptoms aren’t pretty, but unless you’re giving up caffeine for medical reasons why would you ever want to?
Caffeine CAN be Addictive
How addicted to caffeine are/were you? You can take our Caffeine Addiction Diagnosis Quiz to see where you clocked in at. This may explain why the caffeine withdrawal has been so rough.
Human beings can be addicted to anything – including caffeine. While we can argue about the semantics of dependency versus addiction, the reality is that for many, stopping caffeine consumption is very difficult.
Whether you should or not depends on how your habits are affecting your own health, your relationships, or the people around you. For most people, their regular coffee habit may not affect any of these things.
The Science of Withdrawal
Caffeine is addictive because the molecule itself fits so perfectly into our brain’s adenosine receptors.
Adenosine is responsible for signaling the brain that it is time to rest or sleep. Since these receptors are blocked with caffeine molecules, dopamine (the feel good chemical) works more efficiently. Excess adenosine signals the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which further perpetuates the feeling of alertness (via Smithsonian.com)
Over time, the brain adds more adenosine receptors to compensate for the caffeine, which causes a “tolerance” to build up to the caffeine molecule. When a person misses or decides to quit their usual caffeine dose, the brain is then flooded with adenosine, and dopamine can no longer does its job.
The combination of increased adenosine plus a drop in adrenaline levels leads to some of the caffeine withdrawal symptoms listed above.
Have you experienced caffeine withdrawal symptoms that aren’t on the list above? Share them in the comments below.