While you enjoy your morning cup of coffee, you’re feeding your addiction too, according to new research.
According to a new edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM, or in this case, DSM-5), excessive caffeine intake can lead to a condition known as “caffeine intoxication.”
Caffeine withdrawal is now classified as a mental illness as stated in the new DSM-5 manual of psychiatric diagnoses.
“Caffeine is a drug, a mild stimulant, which is used by almost everybody on a daily basis,” said Dr. Charles O’Brien, who chairs the Substance-Related Disorder Work Group for DSM-5. “But it does have a letdown afterwards. If you drink a lot of coffee, at least two or three [236 ml] cups at a time, there will be a rebound or withdrawal effect.”
Caffeine intoxication is defined as having five of a dozen symptoms. Among these are restlessness, flushed face, nervousness, insomnia, muscle twitching, irregular heartbeat and rambling flow of thought and speech.
To be diagnosed with caffeine withdrawal, a patient must experience at least three of five symptoms within 24 hours of stopping or reducing caffeine intake: headache, fatigue or drowsiness, depressed mood or irritability, difficulty concentrating, and flulike symptoms such as nausea or muscle pain.
“The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are transitory, they take care of themselves,” said clinical psychologist Robin Rosenberg, noting that the effects are temporary. “It’s just a natural response to stopping caffeine, and it clears up on its own in short order.”
Caffeine-withdrawal symptoms usually kick in about 12 hours after consumption, peaking at 24 hours, says Jim Lane, a professor of behavioral medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. For most people all symptoms should disappear in about a week, he said.
“We feel that there is enough data to support a caffeine-withdrawal syndrome,” said Alan Budney, a member of the DSM-5 Substance-Related Disorders Work Group. “There are enough people who go into withdrawal — that if they don’t get caffeine, it becomes a real syndrome and can affect work, sleep, or whatever they need to do. So we’re suggesting that it ‘make the big leagues’ and become part of the DSM to make sure everyone is aware of it.”
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