Most people think nothing of drinking a cup or two of coffee every day to wake up and keep ourselves going throughout the. Caffeine can be part of a healthy lifestyle, and it seems harmless enough- until you decide to quit cold-turkey and suffer from painful caffeine-withdrawal headaches and other symptoms. Many people find it almost impossible to quit caffeine and go back to drinking their coffee in a hurry. Why is it so difficult to give up caffeine?
Both caffeine withdrawal and intoxication are now listed as official diagnoses in the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly referred to as DSM-5. When these caffeine “conditions” impair a person’s ability to function in their daily life, they are considered mental disorders. Both caffeine intoxication and withdrawal occur on a regular basis, but only rarely are symptoms serious enough to be considered a mental disorder.
Caffeine withdrawal headaches can mimic other medical issues. According to Laura Juliano, a psychology professor at American University, “We've heard many times people went to the doctor for chronic headaches or because they thought that they had the flu and it turns out it was caffeine withdrawal and they didn't even know it."
Caffeine withdrawal is classified as a patient experiencing at least three of five symptoms within 24 hours of cutting back or eliminating caffeine: headache, difficulty concentrating, fatigue or sleepiness, irritability, and flulike symptoms such as muscle pain or nausea.
Caffeine intoxication is defined as having symptoms such as insomnia, muscle twitching, irregular heartbeat, rambling flow of thought and speech, restlessness, or nervousness. The other criteria for intoxication are that the person must have five out of a possible twelve symptoms. Intoxication can occur at levels of more than 250 milligrams of caffeine, and it must be very difficult to function at home or at work.
Many studies have shown that caffeine can have beneficial health effects. But anyone who experiences unwanted effects from caffeine, such as sleeplessness or the jitters should consider scaling back on their consumption. People with diabetes, anxiety, insomnia, or high blood pressure are also advised to avoid caffeine.
"Some people cannot drink any coffee, half-a-cup of coffee or a Coke will keep them up at a night," said Jim Lane, a professor of behavioral medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. However, "if a person doesn't have any unpleasant symptoms, or any health problems that we know are affected by caffeine use, then I would not try to suggest that whatever they consume is too much," he said.
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