Caffeine addiction

“Caffeine-induced psychosis, whether it be delirium, manic depression, schizophrenia, or merely an anxiety syndrome, in most cases will be hard to differentiate from organic or non-organic psychoses….The treatment for caffeine-induced psychosis is to withhold further caffeine.” -
With long hours at the workplace being the in thing, coffee machines in the offices are no longer an exception. The “cuppa” apart from being a break -time favourite has, over the past few years, become a necessary accompaniment to official meetings and chat sessions. Many a times a quick sip not only helps you to crack the knottiest of problems but also gain confidence before facing the boss after an awful mistake. True, but it is good only as long as it lasts. What happens later is cause enough for worry.

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While a cup of coffee apparently stimulates your senses, a regular intake of caffeine can leave you a complete wreck. This is because coffee simply stimulates the central nervous system, increases the stress hormones in the blood streams, thus making a person feel unnaturally alert. Consequently induced alert state tends to subdue your body's natural instincts and prevent it from relaxing. This causes undue stress and leads to various kinds of disorders. Daily caffeine intake induces a 24 hour cyclic disturbance in your body. While the morning cup of coffee or tea perks up your mood most people can't stop at that. Almost every office goer develops a craving for the next cup and subsequently, a heavy fatigue sets in by late afternoon. Caffeine stimulates glycogen, your body’s natural sugar equaliser as an “antibody” to counteract the toxic caffeine in your system. Its you own glycogen that perks you up not the caffeine

Even if endless cups revives you at this time of the day, a total collapse is inevitable by evening. Irritability, fatigue and gloom along with an uncomfortable sensation are the usual symptom. what is worse is that finally when you try to sleep away your exhaustion at night, you just can't. That's not the end. The next morning you get up tired, thirsting for a steaming cuppa to settle your mood. Thus begins a “coffeeholic's” journey. At the end of which, apart from developing dark circles under the eyes, you also acquire acidity problems, irregular palpitations and more. So next time you take a sip remember you are sipping a host of health problems too.

Are you a Coffee Addict?

Addiction to caffeine can begin as early as in school, or as the syllabus pressure gets the better of you in college or university or perhaps, when you land a job and have to travel in traffic to the office. The first sip happens when you’re battling stress and depression. If you're caffeine dependent answer the following questions and evaluate the addiction status:

· Do you consume more than two cups of coffee, tea or cola or chocolate in a day?

· Do you feel fatigued on and off during the day?

· Do you go through massive emotional mood swings during the day?

· Do you suffer from frequent headaches?

· Do you suffer from constipation or are you dependent on tea or coffee in the morning for clearing your bowels?

· Do you suffer from acidity or heartburn?

· Do you feel a generalized pain in the neck, shoulders and back region and a sensation of discomfort in the legs, hands and stomach?

· Do you suffer from a burning sensation, fatigue and heaviness in the eyes?

· If you are a woman do you suffer from premenstrual syndromes?

· Do you have difficulty in going to sleep?

· Do you wake up in the morning feeling dead tired?

· Are you easily irritable?

· Do you suffer from irregular or rapid heartbeats?

· Do you often feel dizzy?

· Do you have high blood pressure problems apart from anxiety problems?

· Do you have ulcers?

· Do you have problems concentrating without your regular cup of coffee?

· Do your hands tremor?

· Do you feel dehydrated?

If you have answered five to six of the questions with an 'yes' caffeine is part of your daily system, reduction or removal of products laced with caffeine from your diet will improve your health considerably. If you have answered seven to eight of the questions in the affirmative, you are a caffeine addict, and need to reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet. Before caffeine causes any nutritional imbalance or disorder try and be conscious about what you eat and drink. If 10 to 12 of the questions have a positive answer, its time to sit up and listen to your body signals. Caffeine can cause serious damage to your health. Wean yourself of the habit slowly and steadily, preferably with the help o fhe dietician. Remember this is just a self help questionnaire and not a professional diagnosis sheet. Incase of alarming results it is advisable to contact the family doctor.

The Withdrawal Symptoms of Caffeine

Once you have lowered your caffeine dependence status and realized that caffeine is the trouble factor in your diet, don't take the hasty decisions of cutting down on all such intake. For in case of sudden elimination of all caffeine products from your diet, the withdrawal symptoms maybe too tough to handle. consequently, you may suffer from some of the following withdrawal symptoms:

Headaches, irritability, intensification of premenstrual symptoms, fatigue, generalized muscular tension, nausea, lack of appetite, constipation, lack of concentration, disorientation, forgetfulness.

Quitting Coffee Gradually

So make sure you reduce your regular caffeine intake gradually. Initially reduce your intake by half. Avoid the other half by replacing it with a cup of mild organic green tea or herbal tea. For example if you are used to four cups of coffee in a day, start drinking two cups of coffee and two cups of mild green tea. Gradually replace the mild tea with soup or plain hot water mixed with honey and lime. Then replace the remaining two cups of coffee with mild tea and follow the same pattern.

4 cups of coffee to 2 cups of coffee plus 2 cups of green tea. Then 2 cups of coffee plus 2 servings of soup/hot water with honey and lime. Then 2 cups of coffee plus 2 cups of soup/hot water with honey and lime. Then 4 cups of soup/water with honey and lime, freedom from caffeine dependence.

Caffeine withdrawal was recognized as a disorder in September 2004 If you missed your morning coffee and now you have a headache and difficulty concentrating, you might be able to blame it on caffeine withdrawal. In general, the more caffeine consumed, the more severe withdrawal symptoms are likely to be, but as little as one standard cup of coffee a day can produce caffeine addiction, according to a Johns Hopkins study that reviewed over 170 years of caffeine withdrawal research.

Results of the Johns Hopkins study should result in caffeine withdrawal being included in the next edition of the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, considered the bible of mental disorders, and the diagnosis should be updated in the World Health Organization's ICD, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.

"Caffeine is the world's most commonly used stimulant, and it's cheap and readily available so people can maintain their use of caffeine quite easily," says Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. "The latest research demonstrates, however, that when people don't get their usual dose they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms and they may even feel like they have the flu with nausea and muscle pain."

Griffiths, and colleague Laura Juliano, Ph.D., of American University published these findings in the October 2004 issue of the journal Psychopharmacology:

"Despite more than a century and a half of investigation into caffeine withdrawal, doctors and other health professionals have had no scientifically based framework for diagnosing the syndrome," says Griffiths. "Our goal was to critically review the literature regarding caffeine withdrawal to validate the symptoms and signs of illness associated with it, and to determine how often withdrawal produced clinically significant distress."

In their review, the researchers identified 57 experimental studies and nine survey studies on caffeine withdrawal, and examined each to assess the validity of the reported findings.

The researchers identified five clusters of common withdrawal symptoms: headache; fatigue or drowsiness; dysphoric mood including depression and irritability; difficulty concentrating; and flu-like symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and muscle pain or stiffness. In experimental studies, 50 percent of people experienced headache and 13 percent had clinically significant distress or functional impairment; for example, severe headache and other symptoms incompatible with working. Typically, onset of symptoms occurred 12 to 24 hours after stopping caffeine, with peak intensity between one and two days, and for a duration of two to nine days. In general, the incidence or severity of symptoms increased with increases in daily dose, but abstinence from doses as low as 100 milligrams per day, or about one small cup of coffee, also produced symptoms.

The research also showed that avoidance of caffeine withdrawal symptoms motivates regular use of caffeine. For example, the satisfying feelings and perceived benefits that many coffee users experience from their morning coffee appear to be a simple reversal of the negative effects of caffeine withdrawal after overnight abstinence.

But there is good news for those wishing to quit caffeine: A simple, stepwise approach can often eliminate the need for a "fix" without suffering the most severe withdrawal symptoms.

"We teach a systematic method of gradually reducing caffeine consumption over time by substituting decaffeinated or non-caffeinated products. Using such a method allows people to reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms," says Griffiths.

According to the report, caffeine is the most widely used behaviourally active drug in the world. In North America, 80 percent to 90 percent of adults report regular use of caffeine. Average daily intake of caffeine among caffeine consumers in the United States is about 280 milligrams, or about one to two mugs of coffee or three to five bottles of soft drink, with higher intakes estimated in some European countries. In the United States, coffee and soft drinks are the most common sources of caffeine, with almost half of caffeine consumers ingesting caffeine from multiple sources, including tea.

The study was funded in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, U.S.A.

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