Caffeine is everywhere. It’s in our office, tea and even in chocolate. But exactly how does it affect our life. Experts believe that caffeine is just like a drug that becomes addictive. Any unhealthy dependency is deemed as an addiction.
While many people may not know it, they may already have a caffeine addiction. The caffeine addiction can help in some instances, withdrawal from it can be detrimental. Well, experts believe that caffeine dependence can lead to anxiety and stress disorders.
So what exactly are these caffeine withdrawal symptoms? And how do you cope with them?
We’ll explain to you more about caffeine addiction and how you can withdraw from caffeine.
The Addictive Nature of Caffeine
Ever wondered why you just can’t go about your day without your morning coffee? While many people think it’s a habit, drinking coffee can actually be an addiction.
Like other addictions, caffeine not only intoxicates but many people have experienced caffeine withdrawal symptoms. It’s officially recognized by DSM-5, a manual used by doctors to diagnose health problems.
Caffeine has long been attributed to mental and physical health issues. It’s one of the leading addictions in the world today, and some people don’t even know they have it.
The Science of Withdrawal
Addictive substances like caffeine work by releasing an excess of dopamine and endorphins in your brain. Dopamine is a motivator hormone that induces happiness, delight and feelings of accomplishment.
This hormone is used to make you feel good about doing something. So, naturally you would want to drink more caffeine. And once you stop its intake, your body starts to get panic. This is the science of withdrawal.
In this way the brain becomes overburdened with neurochemicals. And this is what produces caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
With a caffeine addiction, withdrawal can lead to intense migraines and sleepiness. And if you have underlying conditions like depression, withdrawal can enhance that too.
Some Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms
An intense headache, usually in the form of a migraine, is common for people withdrawing from caffeine. It’s the most common symptom among caffeine addicts.
Once you stop the intake of caffeine, the blood rushes back into the brain. This sudden change in blood pressure causes a typical migraine. These symptoms usually go away on their own as your brain gets used to natural blood flow. But for the time that they stay, it can be painful and irritating.
A daily cup of coffee can help you stay awake. So suddenly stopping intake will naturally do the opposite; It will make you feel drowsy. Daily consumption of caffeine helps create alertness in the brain and reduces fatigue.
Withdrawing from the caffeine can lead to the neurotransmitter causing extreme drowsiness and fatigue. This is why you feel sleepy and tired after not having your daily cup of coffee.
Irritability and Mood Shifts
We all have a friend that gets extra cranky when they don’t have their morning cup of coffee. This is because they are experiencing caffeine withdrawal symptoms. With caffeine, most withdrawal symptoms kick in even if you miss one day of intake.
The exact culprit of moodiness is unknown. However, it is speculated that drowsiness and lack of energy can cause people to shift moods.
Caffeine is well known for aiding contractions in the stomach and the intestine. Suddenly stopping the intake of caffeine can cause constipation. This is a lesser-known and lesser experienced caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
A simple solution to overcome constipation is to eat food rich in fibers, such as fruits and vegetables. Staying hydrated is also a great escape from constipation.
This is the hardest part of a withdrawal journey. Caffeine has been known to uplift mood. This is due to the release of dopamine every time you have it. And sometimes, during a busy day, coffee can be your only source of dopamine.
When you decide to leave coffee altogether, you compromise on your dopamine supply. And this can lead to a depressed mood, the intensity of which differs from person to person.
Muscle Pain and Cramping
An imbalance in electrolytes can cause cramps and muscle aches. Caffeine dependence can lead to restrictions in hormones and neurotransmitters to your muscles. A sudden halt in the intake of caffeine can often lead to cramped muscles and strained tissues.
Lack of Concentration
Since regular consumption of coffee makes you focused, withdrawing from it can do the opposite. Caffeine intake can generate a spike in your adrenaline. This is the same hormone that helps you cope with stress and triggers the flight response.
Withdrawing from caffeine can reduce your brain’s own alertness. You’ll get used to the concentration so much that withdrawing will significantly affect your concentration skills.
Nausea and Vertigo
Not consuming caffeine can affect your digestive tract in all ways. Apart from constipation, you may also experience extreme nausea and vomiting. Vomiting in this case, however, isn’t exactly a digestive problem. Your headache may cause the problem of nausea.
Anxiety and Stress
This is usually a symptom that you can feel as a result of irritability. When your body doesn’t have its daily supply of caffeine, it starts panicking. Caffeine increases blood flow and helps maintain a good heart rate. Moreover, it stimulates stress hormones such as cortisol.
Anxiety combined with depression, is one of the hardest parts of coping with caffeine withdrawal symptoms. In such a case, consulting a psychotherapist would be a good idea.
Just as withdrawal from caffeine can cause drowsiness, it can also cause a lack of sleep. You’ll be staying up all night because your body is panicking and isn’t used to a caffeine-free day. Insomnia can lead to fatigue later on in the day, And it can actually enhance drowsiness all through your work and study.
Dizziness, mixed with vertigo, is common when withdrawing from a substance. It’s important to understand that hormonal imbalances can change the way your body works. A disturbance in your vestibular system can cause dizziness.
Some people who had stopped caffeine intake, experienced flu-like symptoms. This happens due to the reaction of your body against hormonal imbalances.
Easing the Symptoms
Steadily Ease Back
Many people don’t know how to stop drinking coffee. Deciding on never drinking caffeine again is a challenging task. Instead of saying “I’ll never drink coffee again”, try reducing your intake to just a few cups per week. In this way you set a realistic goal for yourself.
Remember to start with small gaps and gradually get bigger breaks. If you drink four cups everyday, cut that down to just three. Even one cup missed on a weekly basis can set the starting point for your withdrawal journey.
Drink More Water
Remember to stay hydrated and drink more water to reduce the side effects of energy loss. Not staying hydrated enough can lead to lethargy and fatigue.
Water is a natural caffeine detox. It helps clean out your systems. And it provides your cells with massive amounts of energy. Drinking water will also reduce the effects of dehydration that caffeine has on you.
Take More Rest
Withdrawing from caffeine will generally cause drowsiness. So sleep shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you are experiencing insomnia, then try some breathing exercises. Changing your mattress and setting adequate room temperature may also help in getting a good night sleep.
Physical work is important for your body. When coming out of caffeine addiction, you must keep your muscles working. Stretching and straining your muscles will help rebuild them and get them used to a good lifestyle.
Moreover, exercise will prevent irregular blood flow and heartbeat. And it will act as a natural painkiller. Just don’t go too heavy on the exercise. A simple cardio or yoga session is good enough to keep you healthy.
Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms and Daily Life
Unlike other addictions, many of us are addicted to caffeine. Whether you have it in your morning coffee or evening tea, a lot of people can’t function without it. For some people, caffeine withdrawal symptoms can even occur an hour after not having a cup of coffee. Some people can fee the symptoms overnight.
Caffeine Withdrawal by Tapering Off Properly
You’ll need to start small and taper off fro there. If you have two to three cups of coffee everyday, cut that down to just one. If you have seven a week, cut that down to six or five.
You’ll run into some trials and errors but don’t get discouraged. These are just baby steps that may help you climb the ladder to a healthier lifestyle. You may end up not giving up caffeine entirely. That’s fine too. Controlled intake never harmed anyone.
Considerations and Warnings
When trying to cut down on caffeine, it is important to note that not everyone is addicted to it. Some people can function perfectly well without it. Consult with a doctor to find out more about your addiction in detail.
Cutting down on an unhealthy lifestyle can be tough. But with proper guidance, you can say goodbye to caffeine-free forever. Sure the journey is hard. But the other part is even harder. And let’s not forget, your body will be thanking you once you detoxify yourself.
Caffeine isn’t a killer but a show-stopper. Don’t let it get you down. Fight your demons and cut down on this substance abuse. Consult a good therapist who can help you through the journey.
But above all, be helpful. You’ll make it through like you’ve done countless times.