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.

References.

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.

Comments

DAY 150 NO CAFFEINE - THANKS MANDY

Thanks Mandy! I searched "health anxiety". I hadn't thought of doing that before I read your post. It helps tremendously. Just knowing doesn't necessarily make it go away, but it does help keep myself calmer. Fortunately, health anxiety issues are happening more rarely now. I can go an entire week being absolutely fine thinking that I'm 100% recovered, then those fears creep back in for a visit. Knowing the symptoms of "health anxiety" does help me work through the anxiety much quicker and stay calmer. Thank you sooo much!!! :) I'm still staying focused on day 180 (6 months) to reach the point where you are. I'm so happy for you!

DAY 139 NO CAFFEINE - DOING GOOD

The past 10 days have been pretty good. I did wake up one morning with a slight panic feeling, but I was able to disconnect my thoughts from going negative and had faith that this is just part of the caffeine withdrawal process. I went to the gym for a really hard workout to successfully rid myself of that feeling.

I have a friend expressing an interest in also quitting his caffeine addiction. He's a truck driver, so he said that he can't imagine being able to quit. I suggested exactly keeping track of his caffeine intake and very gradually over weeks or months decreasing his consumption of caffeine until he was caffeine free. However, people often speak of giving up addictions, but rarely follow through.

DAY 129 NO CAFFEINE - DIAGNOSING SELF

I like how Mandy describes one of her caffeine withdrawal symptoms as "diagnosing self with all kinds of catastrophic diseases". I still struggle with this even though not as frequently as before. Each time I have physical symptoms occur, my mind starts analyzing it and fears the worse case scenario. Considering caffeine is a psychoactive drug, I find it fascinating that coming off of caffeine 129 days later can still have me thinking like this. I can see why the medical community can't make the connection. I can't make the connection and only believe it because I am experiencing it along with others on here. It's hard to understand why the "diagnosing self" symptom happens during the withdrawal period and not while I was actually consuming caffeine. I'm not asking anyone to explain it. I'm just sharing my thoughts.

The neuropathy that I experience has lessened over the past month. But, when the neuropathy increases for a day or two, I begin to worry about the possibility that it's MS. I know that the neuropathy didn't start until I stopped caffeine and later diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency, so logically the odds of coincidentally having a two issues (Vitamin D deficiency and MS) that share the same symptoms must be very very remote. The only thing that seems to explain the "diagnosing self with catastrophic diseases" is that the depression that I felt in the 1st 60 days is still present on a much lower level under the surface and this depression distorts my perceptions. I'm probably overthinking it, but this is what is on my mind on day 129.

Along with MS, I've begun to worry about congestive heart failure. Pressure in the lower part of my calf has me worrying that I have fluid retention. I've only begun to worry about my heart in the past couple of days. I exercise 2 to 3 hours almost everyday, so it's crazy for me to think this. Plus, other than this weird filling, there is no evidence that it is fluid retention. I press on the skin of my calf and the color resumes to normal quickly. I just keep reminding myself that this "diagnosing self with catastrophic diseases" is part of my caffeine recovery process.

Reading about what others go through on this website helps so much. I appreciate everyone's contribution.

My Story Quitting Caffeine 4 years Ago

For almost 20 years, I drank anywhere from five 44 oz. cups of diet pepsi, and several cups of brewed iced tea per day. I went through the same thing that you are dealing with now. Almost 4 years ago, I quit caffeine of 20 years and went through the worse withdrawals ever. My PCP, neurologist, gastroenterologist, ENT all thought I was crazy. They said the withdrawal symptoms I expressed at that time was similar to that of a cocaine addict. The withdrawal symptoms I had were: headaches, increased anxiety, constipation, acid reflux, shortness of breath, chest tightness, elevated blood pressure, severe insomnia, night sweats, numbness and tingling in hands and feet, electrical shock sensation all over body, muscle twitching, panic attacks, burning head sensations, shaking and tremors, and sinus issues. My doctor put me on a low dose of valium and clonazepam. I had to take it to calm me down. I also had to take sleeping pills to help me sleep a night. My insomnia was so bad that I slept only about 1-2 hours per night for 3 months. It took me close to 6 months to get over the withdrawals. I recently started to drink a few cups of ice tea again and started noticing neuropathy symptoms again. I recently had to take 3 MRI's for the possibility of MS. All of the MRIs came back normal. I am beginning to think that all of my symptoms could be from consuming some caffeine again. Anyways, I could keep going on with my story but I will end here. You can do a search on this site and type "kikaida" and you'll probably find me. Or do a google search and type "kikaida, caffeine withdrawals" and you'll probably see my old postings. Good luck to you! Congratulations in your quest to quit caffeine!

Kikaida

DAY 152 NO CAFFEINE - KIKAIDA

Thanks Kikaida! I'm hoping that you stopped the caffeine again. While it's very encouraging to hear that you symptoms stopped at 6 months too, it's kind of scary to think that I might be tempted to start back up again after 4 years.

The MS fear can be very overwhelming, but 3 MRIs should put your fears to rest. Most of my neuropathy is gone now, so I'm no longer worried about it. In fact, most of my symptoms are gone. Considering that I haven't reached that magical 6 month mark yet, I realize that symptoms may continue to come and go. Fortunately, they come less frequently these days and with less intensity each time.

Thanks for the encouragement and the congratulations! It has been one of the toughest things that I've had to experience. I am determined to not have to experience all of that again, so I'm confident that I won't relapse. Now that I wrote that, I did dream last night that someone was forcing me to drink Mountain Dew and how mad I was at them because of the caffeine. lol. I guess that's a sign that I'm not totally over the withdrawal because I did have a couple of dreams about coffee early on after quitting caffeine. But, this is the first time for a long time and this time I dreamed of Mountain Dew and not coffee like before. :)

Small relapse cause withdrawal symptoms?

Hi there, about two weeks ago I had three 24 oz cups of iced tea and starting having digestive issues again ex: mild acid reflux and burning stomach. Before that I was drinking a 20 oz can of green tea with some chocolate bars at least once or twice a week for about a month. I have been noticing sinus issues, headaches, constipation, disrupted sleep, and about a month ago I started having this rash almost like heat rash. The doctors don't know what is causing it. I had an allergy test three weeks ago and came back positive for about 30 different things and coffee was one of them. My question is that if I have been slowly introducing caffeine back into my system about once a week, could I be experiencing withdrawals again and could the symptoms I listed above be from caffeine? And the biggest question is even if I had small amounts of caffeine introduced back into my system, how long will the withdrawals last this time? I feel so stupid!

Kikaida

just a quick one - i did the

just a quick one - i did the MS one because i felt dizzy lots of the time and i also worried about my heart and got my doctor to send me for an ecg - its because our systems are stressed chronically during withdrawal and our frontal lobes try and problem solve - unhelpfully! it really helped me to start reading all the health anxiety literature, i found lots of comments that said that because stress is so neurological nervous system people often fear M$, so again the theme is yes i went through that.... and came through it. keep going.

Think less....

I really think you need to think less. I appreciate that hypochondria is probably a recognised psychological disorder, but you've got to think the constant stress of imagined diseases will probably end up making you ill !! Live in the day, be thankful you're fit and well now.

DAY 130 NO CAFFEINE - OVERTHINKING IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE

I realize that overthinking is counterproductive. For the most part, I'm winning this battle. I just have lapses. However, the point of me posting was just to share what was going on in my mind at this stage of caffeine withdrawal for other people to read in the future. Some people might go through the same thing and reading that I went through the same thing might give them some hope and encouragement. While I appreciate your offer of solutions, I not really asking for solutions. I know that I just need to wait it all out.

DAY 130 NO CAFFEINE - OVERTHINKING IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE

...and I was acknowledging Mandy's comment that "diagnosing self with catastrophic illnesses" is a symptom. I know this because it is a symptom that I have.

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