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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  • Heather

    Ive been a caffeine addict for over ten years. was addicted to Xenedrine RFA. Every time i tried to get off them or ran out of doses i felt like a heroin addict going through withdraw.The FDA stopped that. I switched to a caffeine based formula. Fast forward to present. I was taking one natural guarana pill (supposed to be equivalent I cup of coffee) and would have some sweet tea throughout the day. My fiance and I decided to do a juice fast for a week while on vacation. Yesterday (first day)by 2PM it was like a scene from the Exorcist. I have never vomited like that before. Massive headache, cold chill and body aches. I though maybe something was wrong with the veg i was juicing. But after reading the above comments i am fairly convinced it is all to do with caffeine. If i can get off this drug i dont want to go through this again. If the FDA banned caffeine from markets can you imagine!!! I can see how people would do what it takes to get their hands on it.

  • Melanie Hart

    Tried to kick the coffee habit, and had such a horrible reaction I had to go back to being a coffee drinker. I had every symptom named, and seriously thought I was going to die. Thank you for posting this article. It really helped me understand what was happening.

  • B

    Just stopped yesterday.. feeling sleepy 🙁

  • Lindsay

    Day two… terrible headache. nausea. fatigue. wanna hurt someone. this is terrible but Ihave to believe Ill be better for quitting. who knew I was this addicted to diet dew.

  • Eric

    I stopped coffee in the mornings last week due to heart palpitations even though I only had 1 or 2 cups. Seems to have helped with the skipped beats but now I’m depressed and actually get worse sleep

  • Toni

    I have been going through withdrawls since 12-3-11. The weird thing is that I only get the symptoms late Friday nights, all day Saturday, all day Sunday & half the day on Mondays.

    I wasn’t trying to cut back on my coffee intake. Life just got a little hectic and I didn’t have the time to make or drink my cup of joe.

    Last night has been the worse ever. I was shaking like a leaf, I had a fever, my body/muscles were aching and sweating all night long. I had to change my cloths 4 times thats how much I was sweating. I was experiencing all of these symptoms at the same time. I never knew that there was such a thing as caffeine withdrawl. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy it is not a good feeling.

    Thank you for sharing your story I know now what is going on with my body.

  • Found your blog when I searched ‘caffeine withdrawal symptoms’ because I had to give up coffee- it was making me super sore and not letting me sleep enough! I’m on Day 2, but I also have the flu, so I don’t know what’s what, but I do have a lot of the symptoms. I hope they don’t last a whole week!!!

  • bret

    I had been drinking 12 cups coffee in morn and energy drinks in afternoon along with some coffee. I started feeling weird in my heart so started to cut the afternnon coffee and cut back on morn coffee also. I have been drinking coffee in morn for years just not that much. for 4 days I have had headaces,dizziness,lethargy,sleepiness,pain in ears,heaviness in heart at times,cold hot feelings, iritable,muscle spasms,nausea, and more Im sure. I have felt like I was gonna die for last three days. i didnt even connect the dots until a family member said caffeine withdrawl so i googled it and here I am. thanks for the comforting info. this sucks. feeling dizzy and irritable right now. get away from me.

  • John Boy

    I have had anxiety attacks and caffeine addition. All caffeine does is increases anxiety, stress, insomnia, and leads to panic attacks. My advice is to cut back very slowly on the caffeine intake, join a gym, and do things to keep your mind busy. If you feel really lousy and you know its the lack of caffeine, then have a little just to get over that exact moment, but do not over do it! It sucks I know, but stay positive and remember that it is all for the better!!! I wish everyone the best of luck and a HAPPY AND HEALTHIER NEW YEAR 2012!!!

  • Rachel

    I am giving up caffeine for medical reasons, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Aside from the sinus sensitivity and mild headache, the most aggravating part is the discomfort in my legs! It feels like I have the flu in my legs, or that I overdid it in a workout. I had cut back to one can of soda per day by 12/30 with no symptoms (aside from longing for one mentally). 12/31 was the first day without, and I started experiencing the leg pain that night. On 1/1, the pain was gone…YEAH!!! But last night I drank what I thought was a caffeine-free rootbeer and the leg pain resumed during my sleep. Hopefully it will pass as the day goes on. Best wishes to all on this same mission. We can do this!!!

  • Gail

    Today is day 3 of no coffee and it’s the first day that I feel “good”. First and Second days I felt like my head was literally swimming and I wanted to curl up in a ball. I have been reducing my caffiene intake for years (drank 4+ cups a day in college and up until a year or two ago when I got it down to 1-2 cups a day). For the last 6 months I’ve been drinking half to one cup a day.
    I’ve been drinking A LOT of decaf green tea in an attempt to trick my brain into thinking warm drink = feeling good.

    Power through, you’ll make it.

  • Nance

    Has anyone had ringing in the ears and dizziness? This started about two months ago and I’ve been off all caffeine for about three days. The ringing has gotten lower in volume but I’m still dizzy. 🙁

  • Sonia

    I’ve been taking these pills called “Thermo Complete” by Herbal Life on and off for a few years. I realised I had to detox from the energy substances in them. I’m now on day 3 and feel so tired and lazy. All I want to do is lie in bed and do nothing. I can’t even get motivated to do anything and feel so foggy headed.

    Yesterday I had rage and anger! Caffeine is a serious drug! I can’t imagine what would happen if coffee was banned.

  • Mike

    Hi I c theres alot of syptoms but the one I dont c is one that just started I am,having a.light headed feel almost like my head is spinning just woundering if thats a normal one

  • Kerry

    My entire family had the flu last week and so I didn’t really eat or drink much of anything… if I could it was water. They all got better but I felt worse and then it hit me suddenly – it has been 4 days since I’ve had a diet pepsi. I haven’t been able to sleep much – when I do I wake up soaked in sweat. I’m nauceous and dizzy and my stomach hurts. I really hope this doesn’t last much longer. Best of luck to everyone going through this with me.

  • Chris

    I’m nearing day 60 of what appears to be an extended period of time to endure a painful caffeine withdrawal. After 33 years of incessant intake, I gave up coffee during Thanksgiving last year, totally cold turkey. Until that point in time, my daily “straight black” consumption was approximately (5) 24 oz. cups, weekends included. I am now completely caffeine free in my diet and yet torpid and listless conditions continue to impact my quality of life in so many facets. From being one of the most active people imaginable, all I now care to do is remove myself from everyone, lay down and try to sleep…yet insomnia has overwhelmed me so even that has been a struggle. Has anyone experienced a caffiene withdrawal duration to run this length of time? If so (and knowing that we’re all different), how long might I expect these symptoms to last? I just read the book “Caffeine Blues”, which I highly recommend and can’t wait to know the feeling of living a life that is 100% caffeine free. Hopefully I’m almost there.

  • Lindsay

    I wasnt trying to kick caffeine, i just simply ran out of caffeinated drinks and the second day in i had a horrible migraine and i was vomiting all day. I thought it was the flu until i drank some diet coke.

  • V.

    Gave up caffeine for the new year. First I switched to decaff and that seemed to help ward off the headaches (i knew from prior quitting attemps would soon follow.) After a week and half of drinking decaff I suddenlty stopped and it seemed to have worked like magic. I thought i had finally successfully tricked my body into giving up caffeine without experiencing the withdrawal symptons. That is until the insomnia kicked in. All of a sudden I couldn’t sleep past 4 am (I who does not like to wake up before the sun) and it made no difference how I went to bed. Every morning was accompanied with nasea and gaging feelings. Next followed a complete lack desire to workout (which I love to do) and an overall sadness/depression and loss of motivation to do anything. Even eating has seemed like a chore lately. Leading to further lack of energy and motivation. I attributed all this to being in a slump. After reading this post it brought a light that

  • Al

    Day 3 of giving up coffee from 8 strong cups a day. Come over here so I can hit something!!

    Every single one of those symptoms and that is exactly why I want to quit even more now. Anything that has that impact on your body and mind cannot be any good for you.

  • michael v sanford

    All great comments above. 12 cups a day for 43 years and quit cold 8 days ago. No cravings at all but the week from hell ended on the seventh day. I endure every of the 10 symptoms except headaches, but at least I could keep food down today.I think my hair is on fire. This is worse than nicotine which is in many ways a mental workout.

Last Modified: November 10, 2017

References

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