More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Caffeine withdrawal considered a disorder

BALTIMORE, Sep 29, 2004 (United Press International) -- As little as a single cup of coffee a day can produce an addiction severe enough to produce withdrawal symptoms, U.S. researchers said Wednesday.

Results of a study at Johns Hopkins University should result in caffeine withdrawal being included in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, considered the bible of mental disorders, researchers said.

Likewise, they added, the diagnosis should be updated in the World Health Organization's International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.

"Caffeine is the world's most commonly used stimulant, and it's cheap and readily available so people can maintain their use of caffeine quite easily," said researcher Roland Griffiths, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. "The latest research demonstrates, however, that when people don't get their usual dose they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating. They may even feel like they have the flu with nausea and muscle pain."


The latest research demonstrates, however, that when people don't get their usual dose they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating

I can relate to this as i have on numerous occassions had withdrawal symptoms.. most notably really bad headaches and with that comes difficulty in concentration.

So i assume the most effective way to stop these withdrawal effects would be to liken it to stopping any drug that has addictive properties then??
I hope my assumption is correct because i've decided to try and stop drinking coffee.. seeing as it's listed in a lot of articles on anxiety and depression related illnesses as a (possible) contributing factor.

I think it's gonna take me longer to come off coffee than it did the meds.. :)
my one prob is what do i drink to subitute it?? any ideas..???

Did coffee withdrawal make it to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, does anyone know.



I think that you previously mentioned that you were drinking quite the amount a day something like 10 cups so quitting cold turkey would probably not be a good idea. I would slowly wean yourself down (same as with the meds). Suddenly stopping could be worse.

As for a substitution, water is probably what most people would suggest as it is the most beneficial to your body but if you are looking for a hot drink that would work there are many herbal teas out there that do not contain any caffeine whatsoever. But remember decaf and caffeine free are different.

Good Luck :)


Thanks Nancy... lokks like water is my best option .. i've been thinking about the various teas etc.. and i've never liked tea of any kind,, so i guess i don't have too many options lol.. only the water..

And i will be reducing my intake slowly.. as you say like with the meds..tapering will be really slow..I've been drinking coffee.. hmmm about 35yrs.. long time.. aaghh..
thanks too for the reminder about the decaf and caffeine free differences.


will check those out TTE, thank you.. today so far (5.20pm) i've had only 3!!! and i can tell you i have drank lots of water, flavoured and regular,, and i'm still hanging.. lol

long night ahead,, unless i go bed real early.... hmm bed early, did i say that?? lol...
thanks again folks.. keep the ideas coming..okay..
well done on only having three,, if someone asked me to last on three cups of tea a day I would be having problems I proberly get through about 10 to 12 cups of tea a day, sometimes more,


Hello. My name is Kanadiana. I'm a coffee addict ;)

Yes, I certainly go through withdrawal if I don't have my coffee. I once had to quit coiffee and sugar cold turkey due to hypoglycemia and I remember the worst side effect was major headache. My habit had been a forever full cup of coffee with two heaping teasponns of demerera brown sugar in every cup EEK Yes, I was "high strung hyper" at that time LOL It was horrible to go through cold turkey. I went back on coffee about a year later, but never got back into the sugar in it habit ;)

My understanding is that at a certain point caffiene first acts as a stimulant, then it changes to the opposite effect of a depressant. I wish I could remember what I learned about this, years ago, from a woman who did a presentation to a training group I was in, about addictions, and in particular about caffiene addiction and it's stimulant/depressant effects. Maybe if I Google I'll find some information.


Dr. Meg, Global Moderator, Practitioner
Lol Kanadiana. Me too :)

I thought that caffeine first acted as a depressant, and then as a stimulant! Hmm. I'll be looking that one up as well.

I've cut down my coffee to one cup a day (but it's a strong one!) and I get a really bad headache if I skip it.

I read that this might be included in the next DSM - in fact, I think we may have debated the inclusion of diagnoses like this in one of my classes last semester. Anyway, I would be curious to see what the diagnostic criteria would be. I guess it would include the standard 'causing clinically significant distress or impairment' criteria like the other drug withdrawal diagnoses do, so I imagine it'd have to be having pretty severe effects if it were to be considered a disorder.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
It is a stimulant - no doubt about that. And it will aggravate anxiety. And it does seem to help a bit with ADHD (not a huge amount but a bit).

However, heavy use does have a paradoxial effect of producing fatigue and possible depressive trends because (1) after an hour or so your body starts to withdraw and (2) because I suspect all that stimulation is fatiguing in itself and your body starts to tire after a while.
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