Regular coffee drinkers may develop symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. This is because the body becomes dependent on caffeine. Removing it from the diet can trigger withdrawal symptoms that start from 12 to 24 hours after the last caffeine intake and can last two to nine days. Caffeine withdrawal is a known medical condition and can affect anyone who consumes caffeine regularly. However, caffeine acts as a stimulant drug affecting neural activity in the brain and increase alertness while decreasing fatigue.
Caffeine Withdrawal Headache
Headache is common caffeine withdrawal symptom. The caffeine in coffee can affect the brain depending on how often you use it. With occasional use, it may relief headache and increase alertness. However, daily use of caffeine can develop dependency by narrowing of blood vessels in the brain, slowing blood flow. Decreasing or stopping caffeine intake enables blood vessels to open and improves blood flow to the brain. This sudden shift in blood flow can lead to painful headaches. (1, 2)
How long do caffeine withdrawal headaches last? Withdrawal may differ in duration and severity as the brain adapts to an increase in blood flow. Most people suffer headache after 12–24 hours of reducing or eliminating caffeine, with the most severe symptoms occurring between 16 to 51 hours. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms might last anywhere from 2 to 9 days. (3)
Regular caffeine intake can develop dependency by narrowing your brain blood vessels. When you stop taking caffeine, the brain blood vessels expand and increase blood flow, which can lead to headaches.
Caffeine is the world’s most popular stimulant drug, commonly used for increasing focus and concentration. People who do not receive their regular dose of caffeine may experience difficulty in concentrating. However, caffeine affects adrenal glands by producing adrenaline hormone as part of the normal stress response of the body. In addition, it boosts the activity of the dopamine and norepinephrine, stimulating neurotransmitters in the brain. These responses can increase blood pressure and stimulate the brain, resulting in enhanced alertness and better concentration. (4, 5, 6)
People with caffeine dependency may experience difficulty in concentration as the caffeine leaves the body.
Caffeine boost energy and decreases fatigue by blocking adenosine receptors, a neurotransmitter that can make you feel tired. Cutting it from your diet can cause fatigue, which is defined as low energy and the inability to perform common tasks. This is because caffeine is addictive and fits so well into your brain’s adenosine receptors. How long does caffeine withdrawal fatigue last? Caffeine withdrawal fatigue can occur after 16 hours of discounting its use and can last up to nine days. Some people who are highly depending on caffeine may experience fatigue after six hours of abstaining from caffeine. The stimulating effects of caffeine can last within four to six hours. (7, 8, 9)
People who abruptly discontinue caffeine consumption after a long period of use will typically experience withdrawal fatigue.
The effects of caffeine on anxiety are complex and can affect every individual differently. For instance, high does of caffeine can trigger anxiety by increasing heart rate and blood pressure, but cutting it out from diet can also cause withdrawal symptom such as anxiety. This is because of the drastic change in hormone productions, such as cortisol and epinephrine, which affects the brain chemistry. (10, 11)
Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant that affects the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine. These hormonal changes may can trigger anxiety.
Caffeine can block adenosine and increase alertness and mood improvements. Adenosine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that serves as a central nervous system depressant. Under normal circumstances, it promotes sleep and decreases alertness. If you take caffeinated beverages daily, quitting it can induce a depressed mood until your body adjusts. 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 studies have associated frequent consumption of caffeine with a decreased risk of depression. (12, 13, 14)
Caffeine consumption can suppress adenosine, a central nervous system depressant, which can lead to mood improvements. If you consume caffeine daily, discontinuing it may cause a depressed mood until your body adjusts.
How to reduce caffeine withdrawal symptoms?
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms should last only two to nine days. The maximum withdrawal symptoms can occur within 16–51 hours after cutting it out from diet. Although these symptoms are temporary, they can be uncomfortable and may make life hard. Fortunately, there are few ways to decrease these unpleasant side effects. Try the following tips to decrease or prevent caffeine withdrawal symptoms:
- take pain killers
- reduce caffeinated drinks
- drink plenty of water
- eat nutritious food
- get plenty of rest
- naturally, boost energy
- perform exercise,
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms can occur in anyone who consumes caffeine daily and then discontinues its use. Headache, poor concentration, depressed mood, low energy, and anxiety are common symptoms that might last two to nine days. By reducing caffeine consumption, staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, and boosting your energy, you can easily prevent caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
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- 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.
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- Caffeine Withdrawal. StatPearls Publishing 2020.