Caffeine Withdrawal Is Real—And Now It's Technically A Mental Disorder

If you're a coffee lover, first, welcome to the club. Second, you probably know the pain of overdoing it on caffeine—and the crash that happens afterward. Don't even get us started on the anguish of trying to cut down on the stuff. Well, none of us are imagining it: as of May 2013, the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists caffeine withdrawal as a mental health disorder.

Related: How Much Caffeine Is In Your Food?

Too Much Coffee Will Hurt Now... And Later

The experience of having too much caffeine coursing through your bloodstream is not a pleasant one. There's the pounding heart, incessant talking, shakiness, anxiousness, gastrointestinal upset, red face, and more. That's caffeine intoxication, and yes, we have all been there. The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) considers a few too many cups o' joe a mental disorder, but it also mentions the post-intoxication crash. As of May 2013, caffeine withdrawal is listed in the guide as a mental health disorder under "Caffeine-Related Disorders". The symptoms include fatigue, headache, and difficulty focusing.

Related: There Are More Ways To Stay Awake Than Just Caffeine

Forget Caffeine—There's A Bigger Problem

If you're racing to tally up how many cups of coffee you down in a day, stop. (Well, unless it's interfering with your life.) The real story with this announcement is the effect it might have on mental health care. Yes, drinking too much coffee sucks. Yes, feeling the post-coffee crash sucks too. But let's not kid ourselves—both of these experiences are temporary and take care of themselves. As described by Mic, "the DSM has historically served as the authority on the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders but it has also always been plagued regarding its credibility." Adding such relatable situations as caffeine intoxication and withdrawal to its list of mental disorders could be harmful. "...this designation," Mic reports, "is infuriating for mental health professionals who are actually trying to build awareness of actually debilitating disorders. The recent spate of public attention towards mental illness has come only in the context of gun violence, which further damages the image of mental disorders as a public health issue."

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Written by Curiosity Staff January 5, 2017

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