Do You Have These Signs and Symptoms of Caffeine Addiction?


Jun 17 2013 - 12:49pm
Symptoms of Caffeine Addiction

According to CBS News This Morning, caffeine addiction is real and could be a mental health problem for many Americans who are estimated to drink over 400 million cups of coffee a day. This news originates from the latest edition of the Psychiatric Association's "Mental Health Bible" that lists caffeine addiction and withdrawal signs and symptoms as indicators of what could be a serious medical problem.

When asked if addiction to caffeine is really a mental illness, Dr. Holly Phillips a CBS News medical contributor responds by explaining why it has been added to the Psychiatric Association's” Mental Health Bible” the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders."

“Technically it is…whether it’s alcoholism, or cocaine, or heroin abuse or withdrawal, caffeine is a drug and when you have those symptoms of withdrawal it is also included in the classification,” says Dr. Phillips who points out that in large part this is due to the influx of energy drinks that have led to emergency room admissions with cases of caffeine intoxication.

Signs and symptoms of caffeine intoxication include:

• Restlessness
• Nervousness
• Excitement
• Insomnia
• Flushed face
• Diuresis (frequent and excessive urination)
• Upset stomach
• Muscle twitching
• Cluttered thoughts
• A fluttering heart
• Manic behavior
• Psychomotor agitation
• Anxiety
• Psychosis (seeing and hearing things that are not there)

And if you are addicted to caffeine, going cold turkey can lead to some serious withdrawal symptoms that can be as bad as your body’s response when caffeine toxicity levels are constantly high.

“If you are really addicted to caffeine and you suddenly stop, you have to fall into this DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) category—you have to have 3 out of the 5 different symptoms,” says Dr. Phillips listing the symptoms as being:

• Headache
• Fatigue or drowsiness
• Depressed mood or irritability
• Flu-like symptoms (muscle aches or nausea)

She also tells viewers that one simple sign that you may be addicted to caffeine is if you skip your normal morning cup of coffee and find yourself feeling not so well—particularly if you find yourself developing a headache.

“That in of itself is a sign that you are dependent on the drug.”

To avoid suffering from withdrawal symptoms, Dr. Phillips advises viewers to wean themselves off caffeine gradually by tapering off over a 3 week period by splitting your cups of coffee in half with added decaf coffee to your cup.

“If you are going to go cold turkey, do it over a vacation because you might not feel well for about a week,” advises Dr. Phillips.

Dr. Phillips also points out that there are many reported benefits to drinking coffee. In fact, some studies indicate that coffee may protect against cancer and could be one of the causes of some people living longer than others, as well as promote weight loss.

However, as with all things related to good health, she and other health professionals stick to the advice that the key is to use moderation with your coffee and caffeine consumption.

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