Ask anyone coming down from the high of one too many cups of coffee, and they'll tell you that the headaches from caffeine withdrawal can drive you crazy. So much so, that the latest version of psychiatry's bible, DSM-5, is naming caffeine withdrawal as an actual mental disorder.
Matt Peckham of Times.com shares some of the symptoms a person who's drunk on coffee would typically experience:
If you've had more than 250 mg of caffeine (two to three cups of brewed coffee) and experienced five or more of the following symptoms, says the guide, you've probably been caffeine-buzzed: restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diuresis (having to pee a lot), gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, tachycardia or cardiac arrhythmia, periods of inexhaustibility or psychomotor agitation (unintentional motion, say, rapidly bouncing one leg).
But it's when you come off the coffee bean high that you start to show the worst side effects.
So what exactly qualifies caffeine withdrawal as a mental disorder? It's more than just the splitting headaches and irritability — caffeine withdrawal becomes a mental illness when it gets to the point that it actually interferes with your daily life.
In December 2011 when caffeine withdrawal was announced as being "recommended for inclusion" in the DSM-5, work-group member Alan J. Budney attempted to address the controversy:
"We feel that there is enough data to support a caffeine-withdrawal syndrome. There are enough people who go into withdrawal — that if they don't get caffeine, it becomes a real syndrome and can affect work, sleep, or whatever they need to do. So we're suggesting that it 'make the big leagues' and become part of the DSM to make sure everyone is aware of it."
With that said, in defense of that crazy person behind you in line at Starbucks, it's not their fault — blame the caffeine!