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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  • Mandy

    I’m so glad I found this site. I stopped drinking soda a little under a week ago. I didn’t truly associate my symptoms with caffeine withdrawal, but they must be. I honestly thought I might have a brain tumor…

  • jacob

    I had some anxiety attacks few weeks ago, and it wasnt fun, I continued to drink POP. I was an excessive POP drinker, I could go through a 12 in a day if I wanted to. Then I wad having hart palpitations so I told my mom to do some research. She said to much caffeine will do that. So I just completely stop drinking POP that day. Then I started gettimg dizzy, chest pains some times which was the anxiety, head aches, faintness, lack of sleep, I’d get mad easily, and worried constantly. The dizziness has subsided, I’ve had a stuffy runny nose and all that. But anyway, I went to go this girl I realy like at her work with my friend, who can be very… loud. He yelled her name in the drive through and here manager got.mad at her. Then i got really depressed and got mad at myself. Has anyone else got depressed at something?

  • Jason

    Flushed face, increased pulse, interrupted sleep cycle, fatigue.

  • Jason

    I was not a heavy coffee user, usually a little decaf and regular in the morning for many years. Decided to stop as I have done in the past. The first 2 nights, I slept great. On day 3, I began to feel achy and fatigued. I went to sleep but woke up to a racing pulse and insomnia for the next 4 hours. My resting pulse is still higher than normal, my face is slightly flushed, and I am hoping that this withdrawl will be less of a chore in the next few days. I have occasionally had a racing heart beat and decided to stop any caffeine use. I am in good health and cannot imagine the withdrawl symptoms that heavy users will experience. Good luck. It is still a drug and has consequences.

  • Mandy

    I decided to cut back on my coffee consumption last week after feeling strong heart palpitations. I went from 6-8 large cups a day (plus expresso) to only 1 or 2 very small cups. I have been feeling terrible – irritable, anxious and shaky. I am trying to calm myself with herbal teas but the only thing that seems to make me feel better is….. a cup of coffee! my pulse also races every now and then – which scares me! has anyone gone to see a doctor about caffeine withdrawal??

  • Patricia

    Hey folks, I’m in the middle of giving up my morning caffeine. For a while, I’ve gone back and forth between coffee and black tea. Finally decided to stop caffeine alltogether. I’ve found an amino acid supplement to be very helpful. It’s L-Tyrosine, and I’m taking one pill upon waking (500 mg) and one mid-morning, both on an empty stomach. I read about this in “the Mood Cure” by Julia Ross. Highly recommend it. I’m not having major withdrawals, other than feeling a little less perky during the day. Best of luck.

  • Hello 😀

    Im 2 days without caffeine, bread and sugar as well!
    I feel like a dead man ahahah
    Feel almost all of your’s withdrawal symptoms
    I Never knew that quitting cofee and that kind of stuff can leave you in this kind of state 😀
    By the way I quit smoking for 3 months now.
    I feel gratefull for your information
    Don’t worry folks thats only temporary! I hope! ahahahah

    Thankyou

    Joel

  • shawna

    I have all those symptoms. I sure hope this goes away fast. I’m trying to be more healthy and all I feel is terrible!

  • Ty

    Wow this is no joke. I have had the worst 3 weeks of my life because of withdrawal. Feb 3rd after an outdoor workout I had sudden allergy symptoms I’ve never experienced i.e. clogged ears,headache and congestion. This caused my daily schedule to consist of only water and all types of meds to fix my allergies. Prior to this I would consume 3 cups of the strongest coffee in the morning (so strong that my mom calls it “mud”), Diet coke thru the day and somtimes a sugarfree rockstar before my workouts, and maybe the occasional starbucks frap at night. I went from this daily intake to ZERO caffeine!! I have gone the the E.R. 3 times in 2 weeks, saw 2 doctors, had an anxiety attack in the dentist chair all in these 3 weeks. One doctor prescribed ativan for panic attacks and prozac for GAD Which I dont have, I was just suffering caffeine withdraws and didnt know it! I didnt know what was happening to me and thought i was going nuts and started the prozac, 2 days in and I was depressed beyond possible and I was told my the dr. to stop the prozac. I have had thee worst symptoms, nausea, flu aches, shakey legs, sore muscles, depression, tunnel vision thought process, fatigue, aching lower back, foggy thinking, worst fear feeling in the stomach, insane irritability. This is serious stuff. I came across this site and was blessed by it, I didnt realize in the last 3 weeks I had went from sky high dosage to zero. I immediately introduced caffeine back in and the symptoms have subsided. There is hope, WEAN OFF, Not Cold Turkey!!!

  • ccjsmama

    I am on day 5 of 0 caffeine and ADs. I went cold turkey on both and am doing OK, not great though..I feel groggy most of the time. How long will this last?

  • ted

    @ccjsmama, A couple of weeks for the caffeine but for the AD’s you should consult your doctor, I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to go cold turkey with those, better to step down dosage.

  • Yerba Mate’ is considered by many a good substitute for coffee.
    It comes from the same part of the world as coffee(S.America) and in some of those countries is consumed more than coffee is. It does have a little caffeine and isn’t as strong as coffee, but is a lot better for you and could definitely help you ween off the strong brew.

  • Steve

    Come on people, you don’t have to suffer like that. Ted and Ty are right. If you want to quit caffeine, do it slowly. Cut one of your daily doses every week until you reach zero. Your body and brain will thank you for sparing them the shock of quitting suddenly. They can get used to the change if you give them time.

  • Bob

    I have every single symptom. I had to stop drinking energy drinks, and I drink 2+ at a time whenever I got thirsty or bored.

  • Sue

    So pleased I found this site, have been thinking I,am loosing the plot, after not feeling well and feeling sick I haven’t been able to face coffee for about 6 days and have been getting worse instead of better.panic attacks a real sicken fear in my stomach and the worst hot flushes ever and my heart rate going mental, have just made myself a coffee and already feel slightly calmer. It didn’t until today cross my mind that I could be having caffeine withdrawal symptoms 🙂 just glad I.am not going mad.

  • Sean

    I was an avid coffee drinking for years. Woke up one morning and my heart was doing a flutter effect. I was rushed to the hospital and was advised to stop caffeine. This included tea, coffee and chocolate.

    The 1st week was hell! I had everything on the above mentioned list. One the 4th night I had the shakes like tremors I had never experienced before. My body was shaking almost like a demon trying to escape. Reminded me of a movie of seeing a drug attic having a major withdrawal and wanting that next hit. Well after 15 minutes of shaking and half way back to the hospital, they tremors stopped. Then my biggest issue on the next couple of days was the insomnia at 1am. I needed to work + I felt like hamburger meat in the morning. Just a terrible feeling! Irritable and fatigued like I had not slept in years and I was in bed for 10 hours already!!

    14 days have passed! I lived and I thought the worse. I felt like that’s it, I’m going die!! Cause of no caffeine or maybe I wrecked my nervous system. I did do an Ultra Sound on my heart and X-ray of my chest + blood test for organ issues and all was 100%. I’m healthy! Well I feel better. Food tastes better and no more morning headaches thinking that coffee will fix it.

    So now I pack a multi-vitamin and magnesium in the morning. No more coffee – just hot water to warm up. And a good breakfast. I did notice I needed more food in the 1st week to keep the pace in life. Well.. If you’re like me – you will live!! There are a ton of side effects and I read this site while going through my tremors, shakes, headaches, and all the rest.

    It roughly took 14 days to clear – everybody maybe different. Friends tell me, “Hey why not try a substitute” – No way!! I’ll pass. Once you get the taste of the substitute – then you’re back on the hook sucking on a coffee bean. I’ll pass – the only JAVA I will get is from reading books on programming!

  • I have experienced Caffeine withdrawals many times, since I tried to quit it many times. The reason for quitting is that coffee is brutally bad for our livers, and livers the so called “happy organs” kept healthy and clean can really alter our life (for better:)). I’ve started drinking coffee in my late twenties and now ten years later I’m trying to quit…. The withdrawals in my case are really bad, headache is very strong, and always accompanied by the nausea, sometimes with actual vomiting. I never understand why would ever go back after enduring this torture while detoxing, but somehow the addiction is very strong, and I feel that alone is scary enough reason for me to quit forever. I absolutely hate being so dependent on something so ridiculous like coffee!

  • Jon Ekkoe

    Im currently going through the worst withdrawal from coffee and energy drinks and shots.. Was drinking anywhere from four or five strong cups of coffee a day.. Sometimes would mix that routine with a few redbulls and then more recently a few five hour energies.. Three days ago I drank a redbull a large coffee and three five hour energies… Didn’t seem to sleep that night and come mid morning I felt flu aches.. Thought I was getting sick… It’s now second day with no caffeine or energy shots and the Aches are starting to subside… Be careful folks… These stimulants can make u feel like shit.

  • Trinnie

    On Day 10 of Caffeine withdrawl. It’s funny my legs and arms are feeling weak. Almost like they are going to give out. I had the severe headache for 3 days. That’s gone. Starting to experience insomonia. I’m so sleepy some days I go home and straight to sleep for a quick nap. That’s probably why I can’t sleep at night. Groggy all day! 🙁 Little bit of depression. Missing my 4-5 cups coffee, sometime Tea or Soda. I had to quit because of Acid Reflux. My Reflux is gone! Yay! Miracle! Coffee was the culprit. Hopefully by the 14th day the Grogginess and Insominia will be gone. Praise God!I’ll tell ya I was addicted and over consuming the Caffeinated Beverages and loving it! Bless you all and good luck with the Caffeine Withdrawls!

  • April

    Im with mandy I seriously thought I had a brain tumor or something going on in my head. I was first thinking it was my eyes but I can see everything real clear. But what I read it didnt seem like it was sinking it and couldnt concentate to save my soul. Found this website and also called my dr and he told me he thought it was that too and that I needed to go back on my pop and just eliminate one a day. I was drinking 5 or 6 24 oz of regular coca cola a day. Health issuess I needed to quite.

Last Modified: November 10, 2017

References

  • Juliano, L. M., & Griffiths, R. R. (2004). A critical review of caffeine withdrawal: empirical validation of symptoms and signs, incidence, severity, and associated features. Psychopharmacology, 176(1), 1-29. Study
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