Caffeine Withdrawal

coffee-beans-265284_960_720Caffeine as a favorite and most commonly used central nervous system stimulant causes its effects through the active molecule called methylxanthine. Biochemically methylxanthine is an antagonist at the level of adenosine receptors responsible for telling our brain when it’s time to rest and sleep thus causing an increase in nervous system activity. It is shown that caffeine causes an increase of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex as well as activation of noradrenaline neurons. All these effects are connected to the various unpleasant symptoms felt when one skips a daily dosage of beverage containing caffeine.

Caffeine can also have an effect on the neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and serotonin which is another important fact when talking about its effects. It blocks the adenosine receptors which improves the learning abilities, cognitive function and memory and coordination. Usually, people drink if before the day begins, which is one of the major mistakes when drinking coffee. It can have also an impact on some hormonal levels such as on cortisol, glutamate production, and epinephrine.

Effects shown after taking low to moderate doses of caffeine include the ability to concentrate, increased level of energy and alertness. Whereas moderate consumption rarely leads to health risks, negative effects occur when consuming higher doses. These effects appear as anxiety, insomnia, and tachycardia.

Although the negative effects of caffeine use are seen in a small caffeine – sensitive group of people, many people nowadays choose to rely on their own body, avoiding the influence of substances causing the possible dependency. That’s when they get to meet a withdraw symptoms.

Factors That Influence Caffeine Withdrawal

Frequency Of Consumption

Whether the symptoms will occur or not and in which degree depends very much on how often do you consume caffeine beverage. Logically more often you consume it the more severe it would be. If you are the one who is a heavy drinker and you drink multiple coffees a day, you might experience a greater symptom occurrence.

Amount Of Caffeine Taken Daily 

More caffeine you take daily, harder it is to withdraw from. While some may not experience any, others may face severe symptoms when giving up on caffeine. It is important to know that the higher Caffeine quantity out of everyday drinks is on many levels. For example, the coffee can have from 135 mg up to 165 mg per cup, while some of the tea types can have from 15 mg to 40 mg per cup. The Caffeine is also in some sort of juices such as Coca-Cola and other types of beverages.

Different Caffeine Beverages Contain Various Amount Of Caffeine:

Instant brewed coffee 135mg

Espresso 40mg

Green tea 53mg

Coca-Cola 12 oz. 35mg

Red Bull 8.5 oz. 80mg

FDA and AMA consider an intake of 130mg-200mg per day as low to moderate. 200mg-300mg is considered as moderate intake. High doses are above 400mg per day whereas heavy caffeine consumption is considered when the intake is greater than 6000mg per day.


Even though it is considered as a safe substance, some become dependent on it because of its effects. They include an increase in energy level, improvement of mood, better cognitive functioning, and mental stimulation. They may find a withdrawal as very challenging.

Common Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms

Anxiety:  It may occur in some while withdrawing and is connected to having a hard time maintaining the same level of performance as one had while on caffeine.

Cravings: This is the symptom that shows how dependent physically and psychologically people can become on caffeine.  Some people have a harder time giving up on coffee and on what they have while drinking it. However, it lasts only a couple of weeks.

Constipation: One of the effects of the caffeine is a bowel movement stimulation, leading to constipation when withdrawing. Healthy eating, plenty of water intake as well as staying active is crucial for maintaining normal bowel movement.

Depression: As caffeine consumption causes an energy boost, logical consequence of lower concentration is going to be mild symptoms of depression, moodiness, lack of interest for doing anything. Which is all considered normal while the brain is trying to regain a homeostasis.

Dizziness: Some may experience dizziness while withdrawing from caffeine.

Flu-like symptoms: manifesting itself as a muscle pain, headaches, and vomiting. These are to be experienced by persons severely dependent on caffeine.

Headaches: Occurs as a sign that brain is trying to come back to its natural state. Some experience migraines while another complaint on standard headaches. Consider taking painkillers such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol for a few days and headaches will subside.

Insomnia: Contradictory to what is expected while withdrawing some may experience insomnia during detoxication. Some people have different organisms which react differently, thus, this symptom can be present among some coffee drinkers.

Lack Of Motivation:  Appears due to the lack of a substance that used to boost your energy and give you a motivation. You can feel bad or without any motivation to do something or to be productive.

Lethargy: People experiencing it describe it as a minor hangover that lasts for a few days. It is the symptoms which occur usually at the beginning of the caffeine withdrawal period and it is not considered a big issue.

Nervousness: It usually shows up during the social interaction due to slowed cognitive function.

Poor Concentration: A very common symptom also connected to slowed cognitive function due to the lack of caffeine.

Slow Thinking: Another symptom connected to the lack of stimulation of caffeine. It will eventually disappear as brain reaches homeostatic state.

Sweating: As a sign of detoxication.

Diarrhea: It is usually logical to experience constipation when quitting caffeine, but it can be a less common possibility.

Grogginess: Some people have reported mood swings and that they experience a “crash” which is usually presented as a lack of motivation and productivity due to a lack of Caffeine in the bloodstream. It can be hard at first, but you will feel more energized after some time.

Irritability: If you have some mood changes and grogginess involved, you might feel a bit irritated or a slightly more nervous than usual. This is normal and you should try to cope with it.

Muscle Rigidity: Some people even experienced muscle tension when on Caffeine withdrawal. This is also one of the less frequent symptoms.

Cognitive Problems. Since caffeine did give you that “rush” effect and boost your cognitive levels, you might feel like your brain is not functioning right or it is slowly working than usual. This can be expressed when on Caffeine withdrawal.

Heart Rhythm Abnormalities. Some people have reported having some palpitations or low blood pressure when on Caffeine withdrawal since it is the substance which stimulates the function of a heart muscle, so it can slow down the heart beat and also make you sluggish.

It takes approximately 1.15 days for caffeine to be excreted from the body, causing a symptom to occur 1-3 days after the last consumption.

How Long Do Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

The time it takes to withdraw and the severity of the symptoms you will experience is highly dependent on your individual physiology as well as of other psychological factors. For most people withdrawal from caffeine lasts anywhere between 7 and 14 days. In this period, you should reach a full recovery. Symptoms such as headaches and constipation should disappear after the first 48 hours following your last caffeine intake.

Experience by itself can be very unpleasant and you may feel like going crazy but it is not commonly as severe as withdrawal from other drugs or alcohol. You will probably sense the first withdrawal symptoms after just a few hours.

There are a few things you can do to ease the symptoms and allow for more productivity during withdrawal:

Gradually Ease Back: It is much better to gradually take yourself off of caffeine than to go cold turkey.

Take Pain Relievers: Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Aspirin can ease a headache and muscle pain commonly occurring while withdrawing. It can be pretty painful to stand those headaches, so you will need some medications in the beginning. The oxygen level can be reduced by 30% as the Caffeine is no longer present. Since the Caffeine is a strong vasoconstrictor, the abstinence of this ingredient will trigger dilatation of the vessels which will eventually lead to increased volume of circulation in the blood which causes heavy headaches.

Drink Plenty Of Water: Hydration is very important during detoxication.

Take Plenty Of Rest: The best time to withdraw is during a weekend or a time when productivity is not a necessity. You may feel an increased need to sleep first day or two which is very common.

Exercise: You won’t feel like it but it will most certainly make you feel better. Exercise increases a level of dopamine which is due to the lack of caffeine in short supply.

Eating Healthy: Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will provide your body with the nutrition it needs, delivering energy and a more positive frame of mind.

If you have experienced any other symptom while withdrawing from caffeine, please share with us in the comments below.