What are the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal?

Regular caffeine consumption reduces sensitivity to caffeine. When caffeine intake is reduced, the body becomes oversensitive to adenosine. In response to this oversensitiveness, blood pressure drops dramatically, causing an excess of blood in the head (though not necessarily on the brain), leading to a headache.

This headache, well known among coffee drinkers, usually lasts from one to five days, and can be alleviated with analgesics such as aspirin. It is also alleviated with caffeine intake (in fact several analgesics contain caffeine dosages).

Often, people who are reducing caffeine intake report being irritable, unable to work, nervous, restless, and feeling sleepy, as well as having a headache. In extreme cases, nausea and vomiting has also been reported.


Caffeine and Health. J. E. James, Academic Press, 1991. Progress in Clinical and Biological Research Volume 158. G. A. Spiller, Ed. Alan R. Liss Inc, 1984.


I am feeling so dreadful, if

I am feeling so dreadful, if there was a way of giving up that didn't make me feel worse, I would give up at this point.


Hi everyone. I'm very glad I found this website, as I have what I believe to caffeine withdrawal symptoms. The more I read the threads here, the more I seem to find my myriad of problems lining up perfectly with everyone else's. Before I go into this, I'd just like to add that I am 31 years old, male, and have been drinking between 400-600mg of caffeine for the previous 7 years, every day.

On July 1st of '16, I went to the ER with what I thought was a neck injury. A week before this happened, I was standing by my front door waiting for my family to go to Waffle House when I felt an immensely weird twinge in my neck. Almost instantly, I had ridiculous anxiety and almost near panic attack. After a few hours, I calmed down and figured it was just an odd sensation. A week later, after my neck was still feeling sore, I got horribly numb sensations and weird palpitations. Figuring I screwed up my spine, I went to the ER where they took a CT scan and ran all sorts of blood tests. Everything was fine, the CT of my head and neck was completely normal, said I had a panic attack (the first in my life) and that I should talk to my doctor about anxiety.

Before this day, I've NEVER in my entire life had anxiety, even while drinking coffee. Yes, here and there I've been a hypochondriac, but never felt anxiety. I guess the panic attack was indicative of this, though, so I went to the doctor and he gave me Citalopram to take for "situation anxiety"? Took it for 3 days and wanted to kill myself, so I stopped completely. Bear in mind, at this point I'm having panic attacks DAILY, sometimes a few times a day. Why? What in the world happened to my perfectly carefree life that this had to now happen nearly 24/7?

As luck would have it, I completely stopped drinking coffee and all caffeine the night after the ER trip. It has now been nearly 3 months, and I'm STILL having these ridiculous sensations and symptoms, which are: Tingling in hands and feet, weird crawling sensations on my head and face, hot flashes right before panic attacks that instantly give me gas or BM, and a steady anxiety that soon turned to agoraphobia (from the fear of panic attacks, which I apparently had to just live with now, for no reason). Also weird jittery inner feelings I like to call the "Jangles" lol, as well as nervousness and sometimes ridiculous derealization/depersonalization.

Throughout all of this, I tried and went back to coffee 4 different times (in 3 months). This time, at 4 weeks and 2 days caffeine-free, the panic attacks have finally stopped (the last one was 8 days ago). I still have the tingling and face sensations and occasional head crawls, but the headaches stopped a long time ago. Really, the worst of it is the anxiety. I just feel scared and weirdly paranoid for absolutely no reason. Open spaces like malls and grocery stores make me really dizzy and pressure-ridden in my head. When I was having the panic attacks, they started as full blown in July, weirdly abdominal and hot flashy in August, to nearly non-existent in September. Like I said before, this 4th cycle off coffee has been the longest, and coincidently the best I've been with the panic episodes. If I have them now, it's only very mild sensations that last for 5-10 seconds throughout the day. Maybe a few times every couple of hours. The full-blown palpitation attacks have nearly been non-existent, though (thank goodness).

Sorry for the book here, but of course like you all, thought I could go back to caffeine after feeling sorta/kinda better. Yesterday, I bought some decaf, and drank a cup last night and this morning. Bad idea. I went right back to the weird stomach sensations and feelings of "dread/doom", if you know what I mean. I've seen my doctor three times during this 3-month ordeal, and each time he tries to tell me it's a different type of anxiety, then gives SSRI's for it. I never take them, and I don't want to.

Is this ALL from caffeine withdrawal? I hate that my weird neck episode lines up so closely to when I stopped my regular caffeine regime, but the CT scan can't lie and my neck feels much better since the end of July (only spasms and dull pain now, but that's to be expected with caffeine withdrawal). Would love to have anyone comment and share their stories. Thanks for listening.


I'm not a doctor Of any kind but your issues with anxiety sound very similar to that of someone who has low magnesium levels. Having a regular blood test will not indicate wether or not you have a magnesium deficiency. You would have to ask your doctor for a specific test to determine your body's magnesium level.

What I would do is take myself to Sprouts or any health food store that sells vitamins and find a powder called CALM. You mix it in water per instructions and I would be surprised if that did not help you.

Good lucj


Hi, sounds like you've had a rough ride with the anxiety and panic attacks......and to answer your last question, I would say from my understanding and experience and other people's testimonials that, yes, your symptoms ARE coming from caffeine withdrawal. If you google Smithsonian:This Is How Your Brain Becomes Addicted to Caffeine, this article explains the science behind it. However, in some people's experiences, it can take a lot longer to reset the brain's chemistry and feel 'normal' again. You were having a fairly high amount of caffeine every day for 7 years - so it's going to take a while to reset and recover. Regarding the panic attacks (that must have been scary for you), if you google caffeineinformer:panic attacks, this article explains about anxiety/panic. Caffeine informer is a pretty good site, in general, with lots of info. I find it helps to understand the science behind how I'm feeling - I'm not sure if this would help you, of course. It does sound like you've become sensitive to caffeine but the good news is that you're already on your way to detoxing and recovery as your panic attacks are decreasing, already. Btw, as you perhaps know, decaf still contains about 4% caffeine and contains other stimulants - so bad news!
Well, good luck and keep us informed. Jackie


Thanks Jackie. It's been 6 days now since I had that last decaf, and I've just today started to feel a little bit better. It's very weird, before my first panic attack in July, I never had any issue with the amounts of coffee I was intaking. Ever since, and ever since I started the withdrawal process, I still get these ridiculous 5-10 second instances throughout the day where it feels like complete dread/panic, only to have them flutter away without a consequence. I never had these before. Are they mini-panic attacks? Like I said in my initial post, the severity of the panic attacks have gone down drastically. Last week before that decaf experiment and the week before that, I was feeling awesome (roughly 4 weeks into no caffeine). Ever since the decaf last Friday, though, it's like that space between the bottom of my ribs is constantly tickled and tight with panic/anxiety. I drank Holy Basil tea on occasion to see if it would bring down my anxiety and panic, which it did, but always gave me headaches a few days after daily brewing (I've always gotten headaches with ANY tea, must be the tannins or something). It's like a surge of unrooted fear and doom, multiple times a day, for a few seconds each time, and then nothing. All of my other symptoms of "standard" withdrawal have gone away (headaches, lethargy, brain fog, sore joints and neck pain). The only thing that remained is this anxiety from absolutely nothing. I've been trying to read more on neurotransmitters to see how long those things take to rebalance after long-term caffeine usage, and it seems like my GABA is still out of sync. How did I figure this? Well, about a month ago I drank some Valerian Tea for insomnia (I'm assuming from the caffeine withdrawal), and noticed the following days after taking the Valerian I had NO anxiety/panic issues/weird 5-10 attacks WHATSOEVER. Valerian apparently binds to the GABA-A receptors, so maybe this is why I felt normal those two days (albeit incredibly tired lol). Anyway, maybe it's post acute withdrawal syndrome. With PAWS, it can take anywhere from 3-6 months, even up to a year for the neurological symptoms to improve. Such a struggle! Hah! Dealing with an off week from withdrawal currently, I've read caffeine cessation can cause cyclic withdrawals with up and downs where you'll think you're better, then back down again with the anxiety and panic the next week. Started going gluten free as well, to see if maybe I've suddenly developed a what allergy and that could be cause for the panic/anxiety episodes. If these 5-10 second bouts of out-of-nowhere fear would just go away, I'd be perfectly back to normal. Cheers to the ongoing struggle!

I wonder how Shane is doing,

I wonder how Shane is doing, if you ever read this post I hope you will come back and update us. Here is your post from August 2015, which is so close to my progress that it could have been written by me!

Long time reader- first post
Hello all! I've been visiting here about a year and a half. This site and the good people who have shared their stories here have helped me keep my sanity over the last almost two years since I've stopped caffeine . Since stopping I've had the most severe and bizzare symptoms. It is still hard to believe that just stopping something as "harmless" as caffeine has led to all of this suffering. But, I quit cold turkey twice. The first time after about three months I couldn't take it anymore so I started back, but because the gastro issues got so bad again ( which is the main reason I stopped to begin with) I stopped cold turkey again. The withdrawal symptoms were even more severe the second time! Now it has been almost two years and though better I still am far from a 100%. I have had problems after quitting caffeine that I NEVER had before I stopped! Some but not all would include: panic attacks, dizziness, tinnitus, eye problems, feeling as if a tight band is wrapped around my head, agoraphobia/social anxiety, feel unsteady when walking like I'm floating, flashes out the corner of my eyes where I think I see a spider, hip and back tightness and pain, arms and legs going numb, catastrophic thinking, etc... One of the most infuriating and frustrating things is that the doctors do not listen! They may say that I was self-medicating with caffeine but they don't answer what I was medicating. Basically they all say there is no way quitting caffeine would cause all the symptoms that I have had and especially for as long as I've had them, even though NONE of them started until I stopped. One doctor said that she didn't know what was wrong but maybe I should just start drinking coffee again or take an SSRI. Now, if one doesn't know what's wrong why prescribe a med?! Sounds like throwing darts in the dark to me. Anyway, thanks for listening to my ramblings. :)

Hello Rob and Jackie, I

Hello Rob and Jackie,

I wondered if it was yo Jackie in the post where you first mentioned the '50 year habit" and I am so glad to hear from you and Rob, especially as you are both in the same boat so that you can encourage each other. I haven't posted under my '60 year habit" label until now because I didn't want to frighten people, but I know that you and Rob can take it…

The fact is that I am still off the caffeine, but feeling very discouraged because although I am definitely slowly improving, at 3and a half years off, although I fully expected it to take at least 5 years (given my history) to recover, the process is wearing me out, I can almost walk with a straight back now, but there is still no pleasure in walking, because after about ten minutes the back ache starts to become unbearable and the fatigue kicks in. These things have all definitely improved,but the pain is still enough to make it impossible to feel comfortable in any position, and when I wake up over and over again the pain seems unbearable.

I am sure that if I could go back to how bad I felt for the first year, I would be amazed at how much i have improved, but it is difficult to remain hopeful some times. I don't talk about it to anyone either, because i know that nobody would believe me. so I have missed your presence here a great deal.

I see a physiotherapist regularly, and have been doing some mobility and strengthening exercises for the last year and they have helped a bit, but the muscle weakness and fatigue will take however long they take, because they are still affected by the caffeine's effects upon my brain, so I try not to expect too much but my patience is wearing very thin!

I wish that I felt less discouraged and I hope that it won't discourage anybody else to read about my discouragement, I am just so worn out by this endless process. You are at least lucky in that it won't take as long for you, my genetic inheritance is the problem here...


Hi, Viv, I really was sorry to hear you're still struggling - where has all the time gone for us? I can truly understand how discouraged you feel - and I know your life is very demanding so you must feel worn out both physically and mentally. Of all the people who have posted on here, you have had the longest PAWS to deal with. I hope posting was cathartic for you - I don't talk to anyone, either, so I know that it is helpful to be able to be honest here. I think, if you can, take heart by how far you've come but, also, I think that we have to sometimes accept how we feel and try to move through it - and look after ourselves as best we can. There is no magic fix (as I used to think).
You are a very strong person to have kept going, no matter what. If you need something to hang on to, remember that you have improved and are still improving. All the best.Jackie

Jackie, Rob, and Betsy

Thanks for the encouragement Jackie, I know what you mean about acceptance, but it is so hard… especially coming on top of a 25 year period of hell recovering from prescription drugs.

I have caught up with all your posts now, and it is a great relief to read that Rob is going to stop being so hard on himself and is going to try to taper, I wish I had somebody similar to me in my caffeine wd story, I am sure that you can help each other to taper off and stay off this time. and Betsy, I am caffeine sensitive too, and only drank two cups of tea a day, (unfortunately for at least 60 years of my life), so the length of time I had been drinking it has made my recovery period incredibly long, which makes me hopeful that your recovery will be short as you haven't been on the stuff for very long (comparatively).

Anyway, I wish you all a speedy recovery….


You're welcome.....and I do have partial understanding. The on-going effects of long-term prescription drugs/caffeine usage must be brutal. . I remember Lisa - who was coming off benzos and caffeine - do you know what happened to her?
Thanks, also, for your continued support and patience. It's been a long road - but I feel we are getting there. I've found it does change you as a person. I had to learn to stop looking for quick fixes and to stop looking for answers 'out there'. You can read a million articles on cold turkey, weaning, brain chemistry etc etc but, in the end, you have to apply the methods and get through it. I have also learned to stop beating myself up and wasting energy on why I haven't done it before. Need to keep focussed on the future and getting better. In short, I feel like I'm finding some inner strength at last.
Well, I hope life is a little less demanding for you and, as ever, that things improve. All the best. Jackie

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