Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms: Top Fifteen

Caffeine withdrawal is no laughing matter and can be very debilitating for those who are suddenly without caffeine.

Caffeine Withdrawal

If you are or have been an avid coffee or energy drink consumer then you are aware of how addictive caffeinated beverages can be.

Just a few hours after missing your scheduled dose the caffeine withdrawal symptoms start to set in.

Caffeine withdrawal is now a recognized disorder and is listed in the DSM-5.

If you’ve ever attempted to quit caffeine without a proper caffeine detox program like Wean Caffeine, then you know how difficult and painful quitting caffeine can be. Typically the more caffeine a person consumes, the greater the intensity and duration of the withdrawal.

Here are the most common caffeine withdrawal symptoms. You’ll be comforted to know that you aren’t really dying but just detoxing from the caffeine.

Even if you aren’t normally a caffeine drinker, you may experience symptoms when quitting caffeine even if only consumed for a few days in a row.

Top 15 Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms

  1. Headache
    A caffeine headache usually starts behind the eyes and then moves up the front of the head.
  2. Sleepiness
    This just isn’t your normal tiredness, this is sitting up straight but still can’t keep your eyes open tiredness.
  3. Irritability
    Everyone and everything gets on your last nerve. It’s best just to lock yourself in your room during this stage.
  4. Lethargy
    Forget about productivity at this stage because you’ll be unmotivated to do anything from the feeling of the lack of energy.
  5. Constipation
    Caffeine stimulates the bowel, so without its daily dose, the colon gets a little cranky too.
  6. Depression
    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.
  7. Muscle Pain, Stiffness, Cramping
    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.
  8. Lack of Concentration
    Forget school, studying, brain surgery, or jet engine repair during this stage of withdrawal.
  9. Flu-like symptoms
    A stuffy nose, blocked sinuses, and sinus pressure have all been reported by people withdrawing from caffeine.
  10. Insomnia
    Some people actually can’t sleep when going through caffeine withdrawal.
  11. Nausea and Vomiting
    Some people can’t even think about food the first couple days of withdrawal which compounds the feeling of lethargy.
  12. Anxiety
    In some people, caffeine actually causes anxiety, but in others, withdrawing from the drug can cause feelings on anxiety and even panic attacks have been reported by some.
  13. Brain Fog
    Withdrawal can cause some people to experience brain fog which is described as the difficulty of having coherent thoughts, difficulty thinking, and the difficulty of doing common tasks.
  14. Dizziness
    Caffeine withdrawal can cause some people to lose their sense of equilibrium.
  15. Heart Rhythm Abnormalities
    Since caffeine also stimulates the heart muscle, some people experience changes in their heart rhythm during withdrawal. Both low blood pressure and even palpitations have been reported.
Quit caffeine without having horrible withdrawal. Find out how Wean Caffeine can help here.

Detoxing is No Laughing Matter

Caffeine withdrawal is a very unpleasant experience.

The symptoms of withdrawal only last a few days to a week for light caffeine consumers but can last 2 months or more for those that had been consuming around 1000 mg or more daily. However, even for the heaviest of consumer the worst symptoms subside after about a week’s time.

Even after the withdrawal period is over, many still never feel quite as good as they do when they’re drinking caffeine all of the time. Some believe that caffeine permanently alters one’s brain chemistry.

This is most likely due to the changes that occur with dopamine levels in the brain because of the daily caffeine.

Caffeine CAN be Addictive

How addicted to caffeine are/were you?

You can take our Caffeine Addiction Diagnosis Quiz to see where you rank. This may explain why your caffeine withdrawal has been so rough.

Human beings can be addicted to anything – including caffeine. Whether dependency or 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.

Reducing the Impact of Caffeine

There is some research indicating products that contain rutaecarpine can actually reduce the impact of caffeine. They do this by assisting with caffeine metabolism. Learn more here.

The Science of Withdrawal

brain-caffeine-addiction
  1. Caffeine is addictive because the molecule itself fits so perfectly into our brain’s adenosine receptors.
  2. Adenosine is responsible for telling the brain when it is time to rest or sleep.
  3. Since these receptors are blocked with caffeine molecules, dopamine (the feel-good chemical) works more efficiently. The excess adenosine signals the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which further perpetuates the feeling of alertness.
  4. Over time, the brain adds more adenosine receptors to compensate for the caffeine, which causes a “tolerance” to build up to the caffeine molecule.
  5. When a person misses or decides to quit their usual caffeine dosage, the brain is then flooded with adenosine and dopamine levels drop drastically causing the brain’s chemistry to be out of balance.
  6. The increased adenosine plus a drop in adrenaline levels leads to some of the caffeine withdrawal symptoms listed above.

Easing The Symptoms

For those that are going through caffeine withdrawal, there are a few things that can be done to ease the symptoms and allow for more productivity.

  • Gradually ease back – If you are consciously giving up caffeine, it may be wise to gradually wean yourself off of caffeine opposed to going cold turkey. We recommend Wean Caffeine as a systematic and precise way to gradually reduce your caffeine consumption to zero over a 30 day period. wean caffeine
  • Take pain relievers – Taking aspirin, ibuprofen, and Tylenol can also help ease headache and muscle pain symptoms associated with withdrawal.
  • Drink plenty of water – Staying well hydrated is key during the withdrawal process and will help you feel better.
  • Get plenty of rest – It’s helpful to plan for your withdrawal during a weekend or a time when productivity isn’t a necessity. Sleeping a lot the first day or two is pretty common.
  • Exercise – Most people won’t feel like exercising, but it will actually make you feel better. Exercise causes the release of dopamine, which is now in short supply in the absence of caffeine. You’ll need all the dopamine you can get, so get moving.
  • Eating healthily – Improving your diet will also help. Eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits will provide your body with the nutrition it needs thus delivering natural energy and promoting a more positive frame of mind.

In any event, just remember that withdrawing from caffeine is hard and takes time. Soon you’ll be caffeine-free and will be able to experience life without the daily influence of caffeine.

Have you experienced caffeine withdrawal symptoms that aren’t on the list above? Share them in the comments below.

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  • MK

    I am on my 4th day of no caffeine or coffee. I was having regular – irregular heartbeats when drinking coffee. They increased over time. The first 3 days of NOT drinking coffee, the heartbeat rhythm still was irregular and even more so the first two days I was off of coffee. Today is day 4 and my heartbeat seems normal so far today. I haven’t had a headache and am surprised, because I have quit in the past and had horrible headaches. I wonder if the irregular heart beat is due to the withdrawal somehow. It makes sense to me that it is possible. I will not begin this horrible habit again. Stop while you are young. I am in my 60’s, but have not always been a coffee drinker. The past 5 years though were heavy duty coffee. I feel clean somehow. Thanks for your words.

  • Cornholio

    I work third shift, and would drink HUGE amounts of caffeine just to keep myself alive. I’m talking chasing redbull with coke and drinking coffee.. for 3 out of 5 days a week
    I quit coffee/caffeine cold turkey..and I have been one sick puppy since! (been like 2 weeks)

  • I have been off coffee for a week because of acid reflux. I am very tired all the time drank coffee for 39 years. I switched to water,I drink maybe 6-8 bottles a day. I think this is going to be good cannot wait to feel better. I may give up beer and wine next.

  • Howard Hopkinson

    I too have decided to give up caffeine due to reflux problems. I’m on my 3rd day and so far, my reflux has been a lot better than it was.

    The caffeine withdrawals are there, but aren’t too bad and are a lot easier to deal with than the reflux.

    I would highly recommend getting rid of caffeine if you have reflux or any other digestive disorder.

  • Jay in CT

    One week ago today I had my last cup of caffeinated coffee and the worst two symptoms are crankiness and poor concentration/visual focus. I am uncharacteristically irritable with customers in the am, so I explain and ask for forgiveness. Driving has been a little nerve-racking. I’m only 40 and want to get off the blood psi medication my old Dr. put me on last year. Along with better nutrition, exercise and better hydration, I finally gave up the morning caffeine fix. I pray the Dr. allows me to stop taking the meds when I go for follow-up next month. God Bless.

  • Crystal

    I don’t get it, if you’re anti-caffeine, why are you still being sponsored by caffeinated beverages?

  • Crystal

    I meant by caffeinated beverage companies*

  • Amanda

    I don’t think anyone said anything about anti-caffeine.
    This just about the withdrawal symptoms. Plus, who would be better
    to sponsor than caffeine companies? They would know more about it.
    I’m 23 years old and was given my first soda at the age of 2. I hate
    The withdrawal symptoms so much that i honestly don’t
    Want to quit. I have no money for soda this week so i have had to go without.
    I’ve slept almost all week because of the headaches that pain relievers
    won’t help and a stuffy nose and nausea. I never want to feel this way
    again. Just give me soda.

  • ted

    @Crystal. Who said we were anti-caffeine? We present both sides of the issue and we believe that caffeine is acceptable in moderation. Not sure why you came to that conclusion.

  • Sara L

    I sympathize with all of you who are having the caffeine withdrawal; it can be very debilitating, speaking from experience. I have been struggling for some time, wondering waht was causing my physical problems…headache, weight gain, restlessness, anxiety/depression, sleep problems and aches and pains of various kinds, not to mention being unable to focus. I don’t drink coffee or colas and not much tea, mostly water and herbals…so where is the caffeine? Chocolate!! I have been eating a lot of dark chocolate for the past couple of years as the stress at work and illness and loss of my husband had pushed me closer to the edge. I would eat a lot at work and then none or little at home on days off….wondered why I felt so bad when I was not at work. Usually better in the evenings after a day full of chocolate…as caffeine can be in the body for up to 12 hours. So I have researched the subject and some pointers I came across…one of the reasons caffeine (and nicotine, for the smokers out there) makes us feel better is that it causes the liver to release sugar into the bloodstream and gives one a sort of “lift”. So chocolate with its caffeine, theobromine and sugar is a triple whammy. One reason also for feeling lousy is dehydration…drink all the filtered good water and herbal teas you can get down. Sugary drinks are not advisable, as sugar can also be addicting and dehydrating. Although most people can feel better after about a week or two, some take up to 3 months or so to get rid of the lethargy and depression. Hang on and don’t give up; it does get better. Take care of yourself and eat and exercise well. Many people have run on caffeine and sugar for years instead of decent food, so they wind up with malnutrition and wonder why they feel bad without the caffeine. Eat a lot of vegetables, some protein, some fruit. Take a daily walk and do something fun…this may sound trivial but I have found a two-hour comedy movie makes me feel a lot better than just sitting around.And one more thing: colas not only have caffeine, they have phosphoric acid which pulls calcium out of your bones and over time can cause osteoporosis. Don’t give up…it does get better; even if you are older, this is not an age thing. Do what you can and stick with it.

  • Eva

    I quit both coffee & cigs together 9 days ago- reason? might be pregnant. The tough part? (dont laugh)
    Ive got all these symptoms, and at first I thought, I must be pregnant- Im throwing up, crying & laughing, headaches, cravings, the works. Reading ur comments here Im starting to wonder if its pregnancy hormones, a result of lack of nicotine, caffeine withdrawel symptoms or maybe even a combo of all three. Well, either way, Im feeling healthy and truly recommend taking a short break from caffeine. Even if its just to realise how dependant we get to the Tall-Caramel-Frap….. PS- the decafs just as good (it might be in your head a little too!)

  • Kathleen

    I have quit drinking(5 yrs ago). I stopped smoking (2 1/2 yrs ago). I have tried to give up caffeine. I have cut back a lot. I now drink 1 cup a day in the morning and no longer want to quit.

  • CT

    I’ve gone 5 days so far and it still sucks. I’ve had all of those symptoms, and still continue to. I have insomnia when I should be sleeping and horrible sleepiness during the day. I hope to god this doesn’t last for two weeks. And the anxiety is almost as bad as that of a coffee drinker, which is the reason I gave it up… almost defeats the purpose. Good article though

  • Nicki

    I have read all the comments from people who are going thru caffeine withdrawal as I have decided to kick the habit after being hooked on diet coke for about twenty three years and heavy duty coffee drinking for about five years. I had my last caffeinated drink at 11pm tonight. I just hope I feel better once I am over the withdrawal. I am just going to stick to myself for two weeks as I anticipate that I will be cranky. I miss the coffee and diet coke already. I usually take a bottle of coke to bed. I’m now off to bed with water. . .Here’s to a healthier future.

  • william

    when i was in highschool i used to drink red bull once or twice a day for like 2 years, i stopped all the sudden and acouple months later i had a dibilitating headache/migraine. i couldnt move i was crying(im a 5’10” 210 lb man)on the floor paralyzed from the pain in my head. i was taken to the hospital and they pumped me full of morphine. a year later it happen again and i had to goto the hospital again. and ive been having severe migraines about once a month since. im worried to cuz my gpa died of a brain anurism and i herd those can be hereditary.

  • diane

    I gave up coffee about 8 days ago. i have gone from drinking about 10 cups a day with 2 heaped teaspoons of coffee per cup also I drank about 2.5 litres of coke a day. I have found that going cold turkey is awful, I have felt nervy, tired, n=muzzy headed and anxious. Today i have had a can of diet coke and a mild weak coffee. I am hoping this gets easier and knowing that other people have felt bad too as helped me.

  • Alex

    So, I’ve been a heavy sugar & caffeine addict for a while now. My downfalls were Coke (ahhhhhhhh, Coke…) and Starbucks chai lattes. Two months ago, I gave up both and after about three weeks, I feel like I was on speed (never done it, maybe shouldn’t compare – LOL)… because the BRAIN FOG was gone, I had energy, I was running around getting all kinds of stuff done! Then came the County Fair, and all was lost. Back to major sugar & caffeine habit. So, three days ago, armed with the power of the experience from the month before, I dug in again. I’m three days in and WOW, the effects of the caffeine withdrawl are just insane. The headache – well, that’s a gimme. The tiredness, the fatigue – big time. But the one that’s really interesting to me is the flu-like symptoms (sinus, aches & pains) and really, the big one is the joint and muscle stiffness. I can barely type this because my fingers feel like they don’t want to bend! I feel like I have arthritis! I think that I’m slowly pushing through it because I’m just barely starting to feel the spark of life that comes through from the other side. 🙂 For all of you that are hooked, be prepared for some major negative symptoms when you give it up. I on leave from my job right now, and thank goodness – I couldn’t have done it while having to focus on ANYTHING. Can’t wait to have my brain function back! 🙂 Be well, all!

  • Quanita

    Well maybe you all can give me a little insight to my problem. The last few days I have been getting dizziness I work 3rd shift so last night i took an amp and a monster and drank them both they aer both sugar free. Well i came home and went to bed after my shift I woke up feeing like I was drunk I stated sweating and teh room was moing and then i felt I had to puke. Dry heaving wasn’t fun. So do you think I was goign thru some issues with to much caffeene in my system and my body was adjusting and trying to get rid ofit. I a have ben slepeing still a litle dizzy now but nothing to bad yoru advise woudl be great thanks

  • ted

    @Quanita, Sounds like a virus to me, how much caffeine do you normally drink each day?

  • Tiffany

    this is my second day without caffiene. im wanting to stop so i can be healthier and lose a bit of weight. i didnt have headaches on the first day but now im having them out the butt! i hope they go away because i want o be so much mor healthier

Last Modified: November 10, 2017

References

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