Caffeine Withdrawal Listed As Psychiatric Disorder


Who hasn’t gotten a headache from caffeine withdrawal or dragged ass in the morning when they didn’t get their coffee? Definitely not me.  I’ve even wished I could have a continuous intravenous drip of caffeine before. But believe it or not, psychiatrists are concerned drinking too much coffee can cause serious mental health issues.

The American Psychiatric Association has determined that caffeine intoxication and withdrawal are forms of mental disorders. In its newest manual, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, the group lists restlessness, red face, gastrointestinal upset, rambling speech, sleeplessness, as well as rapid and irregular heartbeats as symptoms of caffeine intoxication. The diagnosis may apply to coffee drinkers who experience five or more of the symptoms during or shortly after consuming caffeine. To meet the DSM standard, the excitement must also distress or impair the drinker’s functionality.

Actually, caffeine intoxication was listed in the last edition of DSM, DSM-IV, but DSM5 includes the newer condition, caffeine withdrawal, which includes symptoms such as headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and depression. Many caffeine consumers may be unaware of their physical dependence on the drug, however.

The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are transitory, they take care of themselves,” said Robin Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and co-author of the psychology textbook Abnormal Psychology. “It’s just a natural response to stopping caffeine, and it clears up on its own in short order.

But Alan Budney, who assisted with the DSM5, explained why the condition was included in the new DSM edition.

Caffeine is invading our society more and more. So there’s concern enough to consider this topic seriously, even though it’s probably one of the more controversial issues faced by our work group,” Budney, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, told Medscape Medical News.

In fact, the DSM groups caffeine addiction with reliance on other substances, including alcohol, nicotine, cannabis and hallucinogens, which can all alter behavior and mental processes, as well as cause physical ailments.

Well, if there’s ever a Caffeine Anonymous group, sign me up since I—like many—acknowledge my caffeine addiction and don’t see it remedying itself any time in the future, if ever.