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Caffeine Withdrawal Officially Listed as Mental Disorder

On May 2013, American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders released a revised edition, DSM-5 which is a handbook or manual seeking to provide guidance in diagnosing mental disorders to health professionals both in USA and the rest of the world.

Among the mental disorders that have been included in the new edition is caffeine withdrawal. The other one is caffeine intoxication though it was listed in the previous edition, DSM-4. As noted by Makemedicinebetter, “The manual says that excessive caffeine intake can cause a mental condition known as ‘caffeine intoxication.’ People with this level of intoxication will show five or more of the following symptoms: restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diuresis, gastrointestinal disturbance, twitching, rambling thought or speech, tachycardia, arrhythmia, periods of inexhaustibly, or psychomotor agitation.”

However, caffeine withdrawal was included in the current-released edition, DSM-5. “This disorder (caffeine intoxication), as it’s described in both the older DSM-IV and new DSM-5, falls under the heading ‘Caffeine-Related Disorders,’ but in new DSM-5, that section included a new entry: caffeine withdrawal. According to DSM-5, symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include fatigue, headache and difficulty focusing.”

WSJ on the inclusion of caffeine withdrawal as a psychiatric disorder notes, “Caffeine intoxication was included as a diagnosis in the previous version of the manual, known as DSM-IV. But caffeine withdrawal was upgraded in the current manual to a diagnosis from a ‘research diagnosis’ previously, meaning it required further study for inclusion. Also, coffee disorder – when a person suffers troubling side effects and isnt able to quit – was added to the current manual as a research diagnosis.”

If a person drinks about two to three cups of coffee a day, then the person should expect a withdrawal. Those who consume more than five cups of coffee a day, should expect the symptoms of withdrawal to be greater than the average drinker; especially if they decide to go the cold-turkey way. This is clearly noted by Makemedicinebetter. “Anyone who consumes large quantities of coffee then stops cold turkey, will suffer these symptoms acutely.”

The good news is the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal don’t last long – they pass with time. However, the duration of the withdrawal symptoms depend. “Most people who go through caffeine withdrawal typically start experiencing symptoms within 12 to 24 hours after they stop having caffeine, but some may not start experiencing effects until 36 hours later, according to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Centre. The height of caffeine withdrawal symptoms tend to occur within 20 to 48 hours, and the duration of the symptoms can last two days to a week or more.”

It is important to note, despite criticisms on the inclusion of caffeine withdrawal as a psychiatric disorder that when the withdrawal symptoms affects the affected person’s daily life then the truth becomes clear. It is a mental disorder. This is clearly expressed by WSJ. “Here’s the cavet though. The symptoms, Dr. Budney stressed, must cause ‘ clinically significant distress or impairment’ that affects your functioning at work, home or in a social setting.”

Therefore, a person will be diagnosed with mental disorder when the “Caffeine withdrawal disorder can affect sociability, work performance, sleep as well as mood and general health.”

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