It’s Official: Caffeine Withdrawal Is a Mental Health Disorder

published Jun 13, 2013
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If you’ve ever tried to kick the coffee habit, you are familiar with the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal: headaches, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. But the release of the newest version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) made official what us coffee addicts suspected all along. Caffeine withdrawal can be a mental health disorder.

This isn’t an excuse to go around diagnosing your irritable co-workers with caffeine withdrawal every morning, as tempting as it may be. To classify as mental disorder, the symptoms must cause “clinically significant distress or impairment” to a person’s ability to function at home, at work, or in a social setting. Still, not everyone agrees with calling the symptoms a disorder.

“Caffeine intoxication and withdrawal both occur fairly frequently but only rarely cause enough clinically significant impairment to be considered a mental disorder,” said Allen Frances, who chaired the task force that developed the previous version of the DSM and has been a vocal critic of the latest version. “We shouldn’t medicalize every aspect of life and turn everyone into a patient,” he added.

Read more: A Coffee Withdrawal Diagnosis at the Wall Street Journal

What do you think? Have you ever tried kicking the caffeine habit? Any tips for making it easier?

(Image: Piyato/Shutterstock)