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Quitting Caffeine. Photo: Ultimate Performancece

If you regularly consume caffeine, caffeine withdrawal will likely affect you at some point. The more caffeine you drink, generally the worse the withdrawal experience is.

Surprisingly, habitual consumption of even just one small cup of coffee per day can produce withdrawal symptoms.

Caffeine Side Effects

If you’re unsure whether your body is hooked on caffeine, just quit it for a day. If you start experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as severe headaches, irritability, muscle aches, drowsiness and nausea, then you have a physical dependence.

Caffeine can also have other nasty side effects such as temporary rises in blood pressure, heart palpitations, dehydration and heartburn. Some people feel jittery, shaky, agitated and nervous and are unable to get a good night’s sleep after consuming caffeine. For women, caffeine may intensify the symptoms of premenstrual tension syndrome and fibrocystic breasts. It might also hasten calcium loss from bones in menopausal women.

Dr. Cotterel says it’s best for some people to scrap their caffeine consumption entirely.

“Pregnant women should avoid caffeine, particularly at high doses, since it crosses the placenta and has been shown to increase the incidence of miscarriages, stillbirths, premature and low birth weight deliveries,” Dr. Cotterel says. “It has also been shown to elevate blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which has been implicated as a risk factor in coronary artery disease.”, according to Sutter health.

Breaking the Habit

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Breaking the habit. Photo: Medium

The hardest but most important step may be convincing yourself that you don’t need caffeine in the first place. Many people feel that it’s necessary for success at work or school, but the substance actually doesn’t make a dramatic impact on the brain or cognitive performance, Addicott says — in fact, caffeine dependence is closely intertwined with its perceived effects.

“When you drink a certain amount of caffeine every single day, your body adapts to that and maintains the normal baseline performance,” Addicott says. “When you don’t get that much caffeine, you go through withdrawal, which can actually lower your performance. So then it feels like caffeine is having this strong effect and improving the ability to concentrate, but it’s really not. It’s just bringing you back to that normal baseline.”

Once you recognize and break this cycle, Addicott says, you’ll be able to achieve the same results without a steady stream of espresso shots. Of course, that’s easier said than done — and unfortunately, Addicott says that the only real way to do it is to wean yourself off of caffeinated drinks slowly but surely, as cited by TIME.

Swapping buzzy beverages for half-caffeinated or decaffeinated versions may help, as can walking around the office or getting other physical activity when you feel sleepy. But at some point, “you’re just going to have to tough it out and suffer some withdrawal,” Addicott says. You can expect symptoms such as headache, fatigue, irritability and difficulty concentrating, but they should go away as you adjust to your new habits. Symptoms should subside within a few days, the Mayo Clinic says.

The Takeaway

Caffeine is thought to be the most frequently used psychoactive substance in the world. In the United States, it’s the second most consumed beverage after water.

Caffeine functions as a central nervous system stimulant and even a small amount used daily can cause withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can result in caffeine dependency.

The severity and duration of caffeine withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person, and your genetic makeup can play a part in how much coffee you consume.

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