If the body becomes dependent on caffeine, removing it from the diet can trigger caffeine withdrawal symptoms that start at 6 to 24 hours after. Caffeine withdrawal is a known medical diagnosis and can affect anyone who consumes caffeine.
However, caffeine is the most used psychoactive substance in the world. It acts as a stimulant of the central nervous system, thus affecting neural activity in the brain and increase alertness while decreasing fatigue.
Caffeine Withdrawal Headache
Headaches are one of caffeine withdrawal’s most reported symptoms. Therefore, caffeine creates a narrowing of blood vessels in the brain, slowing blood flow.
Since consumption of caffeine causes slowing of blood vessels, decreasing or stopping intake enables blood vessels to open and improves blood flow to the brain.
This sudden shift in blood flow can lead to painful headaches. However, withdrawal may differ in duration and severity as the brain adapts to an increase in blood flow.
As the brain adapts to this rise in blood flow, headaches will happen. Although the removal of caffeine may trigger headaches, such as migraines.
One of the primary reasons individuals consumes caffeine in the form of coffee, tea or beverages is to increase concentration. Before exams, athletic activities, and presentations, people consume caffeine in the form of coffee to enhance focus.
However, caffeine raises adrenaline levels, a hormone generated by the adrenal glands as part of the normal stress response of the body.
In addition, it boosts the activity of the dopamine and norepinephrine stimulating neurotransmitters. This mixture of responses increases heart rate and blood pressure and stimulates the brain, resulting in enhanced alertness and better focus. However, caffeine withdrawal can have negative effects.
Symptoms of Fatigue
To offer them an energy boost, many individuals rely on a regular cup of coffee. Caffeine in coffee helps to raise awareness and decrease tiredness.
This is by blocking adenosine receptors, a neurotransmitter that can make you feel tired. Therefore, athletes consume caffeine for energy improvement and chronic fatigue reduction.
Excluding caffeine from your diet, however, can have the opposite impact, resulting in fatigue and tiredness. Research in 213 regular caffeine consumers, for instance, showed that stopping caffeine for 16 hours caused them an increase in fatigue.
Those who consumed caffeine daily had more serious withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue than those who consumed a few times a week.
It’s stimulating effects last only about four to six hours in your body, which can make you throughout the day to reach for many cups of coffee or energy drinks to keep you alert. This can lead to excessive consumption and dependency on caffeine and increase withdrawal symptoms.
May Cause Irritability
Regular coffee drinkers are usually cranky before their cup of coffee in the morning. Caffeine in coffee may be responsible for this irritability sensation. Since coffee only lasts four to six hours in the body, irritability may happen after 8 hours rest of the night.
The mood-enhancing effects of caffeine are used by coffee drinkers and the shot of energy they receive. For some, it makes them irritable and moody to wean away caffeinated drinks like coffee.
In a study of 94 caffeine-dependent adults, 89 percent of participants reported that they had been unsuccessful in their efforts because of symptoms of withdrawal, including irritability and anger, although they wanted to reduce caffeine.
Anxiety Can Occur
Caffeine is a stimulant that raises the heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol and epinephrine stress hormones. Individuals sensitive to caffeine, only one cup of coffee can make them feel jittery and worried.
While consuming caffeine may trigger anxiety, cutting it out may also trigger the same side effects. Anxiety is a frequently reported symptom in individuals who stop the consumption of caffeine. The body can become dependent on it mentally and physiologically, causing anxiety emotions.
If you consume most of your caffeine in the form of soda or sugar-sweetened coffee, the sudden decrease in sugar may increase the anxiety caused by caffeine withdrawal. Animal studies show that sugar can cause anxiety symptoms if suddenly removed from the diet.
Can Cause Hands Tremors
Although not as common as other symptoms, those with severe dependence on caffeine may experience tremors. Since caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system. Drinking too much common side effects include feeling nervous, anxious, and shaky hands.
Those with anxiety disorders are recommended not to consume caffeine to prevent increasing anxiety emotions. However, tremors typically occur in the hands after caffeine withdrawal. If hand tremors last longer than nine days, consult your physician to rule out other reasons.
Caffeine’s ability to elevate mood is well recognized. Caffeine ability to block adenosine not only increases alertness, but mood improvement has also been discovered.
One research in individuals who consumed caffeine discovered that consuming 0.68 mg per pound (1.5 mg per kg) of body weight resulted in a more positive mood compared to the placebo.
In addition, many trials have associated frequent consumption of caffeine with a decreased danger of depression. An extensive study of over 50,000 females discovered that females who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had a 20 percent lower risk of depression compared to females who drank little or no coffee.
Caffeine’s stimulating effects can lead to emotions of well-being and increased energy that disappears when the consumption of caffeine stops. For this purpose, if you stop caffeine consumption, your mood can take a hit.
Weakness and Low Energy
Everyone who consumes caffeine is looking for a manner to enhance energy levels that are lagging. Lifestyle variables such as poor sleep, demanding employment, and unhealthy diets can drain energy. This is causing many individuals to re-energize their selves with external sources such as coffee and energy drinks.
Caffeinated drinks are often used to supply the energy required to create it throughout the day. Sipping on a cup of coffee or energy drink increases concentration. These essential effects may cause a reliance on caffeine.
Therefore, resulting in the need for more and more caffeine to produce an increase in energy. That’s why low energy is a prevalent complaint from individuals who reduce or remove consuming caffeine.
How to Reduce Symptoms?
Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal should last only two to nine days. The maximum symptoms can occur within 24–51 hours after cutting out caffeine. Although these symptoms are temporary, they can be uncomfortable and may make life hard.
Fortunately, there are ways to decrease these unpleasant side effects. Try the following tips to decrease or prevent symptoms of withdrawal of caffeine completely.
Take pain relievers: aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol may help relieve headaches and muscle pain.
Reduce caffeinated drinks: Start drinking half-decaf, half-regular coffee to decrease your dependency if you are used to drinking coffee. Even better alternative is a decaf herbal tea.
Drink plenty of water: During the withdrawal process, hydration is key and will help you feel better.
Eat healthy food: It will also assist to improve your diet. Eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit will provide the nutrition your body needs.
Get plenty of rest: planning a weekend is useful. It’s common to sleep a lot the first day or two.
Naturally, boost energy: Try to include natural energy sources such as exercise, and stress reduction methods into your routine if your energy levels have taken a hit after giving up caffeine.
Exercise: Most people will not feel like exercising, but it really will make you feel better. Exercise leads to dopamine release.
The caffeine withdrawal symptoms may happen in anyone who consumes caffeine frequently. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce these symptoms. For example, slowly reducing caffeine consumption, staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, and boosting your energy naturally.
Goldstein DS. Adrenal responses to stress. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2010.
Caffeine increases striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability in the human brain. Transl Psychiatry. 2015.
Effects of caffeine and caffeine withdrawal on mood and cognitive performance degraded by sleep restriction. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2005.
Characterization of individuals seeking treatment for caffeine dependence. Psychol Addict Behav. 2012.
Cortisol responses to mental stress, exercise, and meals following caffeine intake in men and women. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2006.
Caffeine: behavioral effects of withdrawal and related issues. Food Chem Toxicol. 2002.
Hand tremor related to smoking habits and the consumption of caffeine in male industrial workers. Neurotoxicology. 2006.
Effects of repeated doses of caffeine on mood and performance of alert and fatigued volunteers. J Psychopharmacol. 2005.
Coffee, caffeine, and risk of depression among women. Arch Intern Med. 2011.
Evaluating Dependence Criteria for Caffeine. J Caffeine Res. 2011.
Caffeine Withdrawal. StatPearls Publishing 2020.