All good things should be taken in moderation… which can be hard when it comes to something that gives an energy boost when needed! However, there are several reasons to quit caffeine, especially if the body has developed a dependency to stimulation from it. Your caffeine intake might be giving you bothersome side effects… so you’ve decided to quit coffee, caffeinated tea, and sodas…but as soon as you stop consuming them, you may experience uncomfortable caffeine withdrawal symptoms. The good news is, these are all temporary, so don’t despair! Here are some symptoms that you could experience if you are addicted to caffeine:
- Headaches: Many individuals report headaches as one of their main symptoms from caffeine withdrawal. It’s known that caffeine narrows the blood vessels in your brain. Without it, your blood vessels widen. The resulting boost in blood flow could trigger a headache or result in other symptoms of withdrawal according to this study.
- Fatigue: Individuals drink caffeine to give them energy and when they stop, it usually causes them to feel tired. Caffeine improves energy and reduces drowsiness by blocking our adenosine receptors according to this study. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that can cause fatigue- so once caffeine is not consumed, the feelings of fatigue are amplified.
- Negative mood: Quitting caffeine can cause a mood shift called dysphoria, which is a state of feeling uneasy, unhappy, or unwell. Some individuals experience a variety of negative mood states, ranging from feeling depressed to feeling anxious or irritable. Research on this theory illustrated that in humans another symptom of caffeine withdrawal is dysphoric mood.
- Difficulty Concentrating: Just like feeling fatigued, many individuals also report having a hard time concentrating when they quit caffeine cold turkey. In the absence of caffeine, the same adenosine molecules that promote feelings of fatigue may also affect a person’s ability to concentrate. The study found that difficulty concentrating, is another common symptom that many individuals face when quitting a caffeine dependence.
- Mental fog: Individuals with caffeine withdrawal symptoms say they experience difficulty with having coherent thoughts, difficulty thinking, or difficulty of doing common tasks. Research agrees with this side effect, noting that frequent caffeine drinkers can have foggy thinking when they do not consume the stimulant.
- Nausea/vomiting: Nausea is the unpleasant sensation of queasiness and is a common symptom of caffeine withdrawal. Vomiting does not happen as often but is also recognized as a result of caffeine withdrawal. A study on caffeine withdrawal illustrates that in addition to nausea and vomiting, flu-like symptoms, and muscle pain/stiffness were judged likely to represent valid symptom categories.
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms here are some ways to cope and relieve them. A good way is to not stop taking caffeine cold turkey but to taper yourself off. A rule of thumb is to reduce your intake by 10% every two weeks.