Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Key Points



  • People may not be aware that their mental ill-health may be being caused or exacerbated by their caffeine intake. In particular (a) anxiety is highly correlated with caffeine use, and (b) anxiety sufferers appear to often have high caffeine sensitivity.
  • People may also be over-estimating the benefits they are receiving from caffeine. Caffeine's perceived benefits may not be real, and it may have negative effects on personality, personal effectiveness and sleep quality.
  • Why not go caffeine free for 40 days, as a trial to find out? (Note; the first withdrawal days may not be fun...)


This site expresses personal opinions only, in some cases with supporting links and in some cases not. These opinions should not be taken as factually correct, or be relied upon, used or otherwise acted upon in any way. No liability will be accepted for any results of reading or other use of this website.



Whilst withdrawal from caffeine is difficult and unpleasant, it is possible.

A note on use of caffeine for self-medication.
Many people take caffeine for self-medication; it may give a few precious minutes relief from their suffering. However in our view this is a lie; the net suffering, including the later anxiety that caffeine causes, outweigh the brief relief. Alternative self-medications, such as exercise, can be tried (see 'mindsets' below).

Trigger motivations to withdraw:

Factors that appear to finally trigger people to begin to attempt withdrawal are realisation and focus that caffeine is causing;
  • awareness that time is passing; life is short.
  • increased anxiety; that exiting caffeine may reduce or stop my anxiety/GAD/panic disorder.
  • feelings of extreme fatigue, including feeling overtired upon waking in the morning (i.e. withdrawal from overnight non-caffeine).
  • feelings of physical ill-health; it's just not nice feeling "wired" and jumpy.
  • feelings of disillusion with the caffeine high; not very strong 'hit' (body has habituated), doesn't last long, and soon followed by higher anxiety.
  • contemplation of the damage being done, particularly to sleep.
  • day-to-day quality of life to be not as good as it could be; major damage to quality of life.
  • irritability, emotional highs and lows, and moodiness; personality impacts which are causing major hurt to me and to my loved ones.
  • poor quality of thinking; garbled and over-volatile.
  • poor health; (a) body weight effects of milk/cream (if drink coffee that way), (b) teeth discolouring effects of coffee, (c) acne impact of caffeine.
  • being fed up of continual battling with caffeine, including lying to loved ones, needing to be covert about usage, etc..
  • medical advice, e.g. higher heart attack risk if low metaboliser (test available as part of

Ways to increase withdrawal motivation

1. Temporarily increase caffeine dosage - to 'blow out' so that you are well and truly sick of the stuff and what it does to your brain (see trigger motivations above).

2. Limit caffeine intake to morning only, meaning withdrawal is underway by early hours of each night, when increased anxiety may be experienced and this may act as a strong driver for exit (see trigger motivations above). 
  • In early hours the cortex may not be very aware, so not fighting back against amygdala limbic system well, meaning the anxiety experienced is less combatted and thus stronger. 
  • Alcohol may have a role in both enabling non-caffeine use after the morning intake (i.e. use alcohol in afternoon/evening), and causing wakefulness in early hours. 
  • Success of this technique will depend on personal sensitivities and so it may not work for very many people. 
  • This approach does fit with the wisdom that, although our drug-hungry inner monkey is stronger than us in direct combat, we can outwit and outmanoueuvre it.
3. Do both 1 and 2 above, i.e. high, morning-only intake.

Withdrawal methods:
  • Cold turkey seems the most common method. 
  • Some people reduce intake over a period ('tapering') before finally stopping. 
  • A possible route is to combine withdrawal with illness (cold, flu, etc); i.e. when you enter an illness, start withdrawal; this allows and enables you to be 'wiped out', in bed, and socially and professionally unavailable. It also gives great support from family, makes it easier to avoid temptation, enables you to associate caffeine with catching the illness (i.e. 'yeughhh' when think of caffeine) and enables you to 'mentally mix up' some caffeine withdrawal symptoms within the illness (i.e. 'I'm not sure and I don't care what is causing this headache.'). (This method can be used also to simultaneously detox i.e. withdraw also from alcohol, chocolate, pain-killers, sugar, cheese, wheat.)
  • A similar possible route is to combine withdrawal with travel, e.g. an airplane flight or holiday. Again this can enable you to 'mentally mix up' caffeine withdrawal symptoms within other physical feelings and changes. 
  • Other drugs: It can be helpful to also exit other drugs (e.g. alcohol); you may be in a negative loop where alcohol leads to caffeine, which leads to alcohol. This may be done at the same time as caffeine exit, or soon after (might use alcohol for day 1 caffeine withdrawal). Longer phasing seems less likely to succeed. However you may actually use more of other drugs (e.g. sugar) during the escape phase.

Techniques for during withdrawal
  • Expect extreme emotional volatility. Downgrade the value of emotions ('emotions are not important'), and upgrade the sunny (happy) future you want.
  • Drink lots of water. To replace your normal intake via caffeine drinks.
  • Anxiety may be reduced by taking  paracetamol/tylenol/acetaminophen  ( 
  • Withdraw from other drugs (see above) (Using substitute drugs does not seem to help.) However temporary use of alternative highs, e.g. sugar, may help some people.
  • Meditation can be very helpful, as it can raise your underlying happiness set point. 
  • It can be a good idea to write down and keep at hand; your motivation reasons, (e.g. "Nice life ruined by caffeine."), what you are expecting during withdrawal (e.g. see the effects listed below), attitudes or mindsets that will help you (e.g. "we are just chemicals", "only way to joy"), and set up a system that will regularly remind you of these as you go through withdrawal (e.g. put it up where you can see it each day (e.g. bathroom mirror), or send it in an email or imaginary meeting title to yourself once or several times a day).
  • Anxiety and despair insight may be increased by Socratic dialogue / REBT (Albert Ellis); asking yourself what exactly is distressing you, until you reach a real reason (not just 'it might be awful'); often the real reason is actually manageable. e.g. 'It would be nice if my wife did not leave me, but it would actually not be the end of the world - life would carry on.'
  • In contrast other people do not want to be reminded about anything to do with caffeine, as this brings temptation; they would rather try to 'break clear', and have no reminders of caffeine or other baggage as they attempt to achieve escape velocity.
  • Temptation to lapse. Triggers for lapses may be moments of stress and moments of boredom, inactivity and lethargy. Inner responses to this temptation can be to see through them, look beyond them, see your whole life picture, to say "I do not want to go through this all again,"I want to move forward, not be stuck here,"You can't have your cake and eat it." Try very hard not to lapse; any, even small, lapse, is playing with fire; you are placing yourself on a slippery slope that you may not be able to recover from. However if you do lapse, do not "beat yourself up" over it. Be gentle with yourself, regroup, remind yourself what you're trying to do here, and move forward. Some people do seem to withdraw including perhaps a single lapse.

Possible mindset suggestions (for withdrawal) include;
  • timing: cease caffeine when it feels relatively right inside to do so; this may not be a logical time, but one when things just feel relatively right, when you feel right to 'catch the wave'. This may be for instance when you feel good and strong, or alternatively when you have been struck afresh by how much damage caffeine is doing to your and your loved ones lives.
  • the human brain is complex, and multi-faceted. Primitive drivers co-exist with rationality. Consciousness, and conscious determination, are only part of the story. This makes avoiding temptation very important, if you can. Your human self can out-wit the primitive driver by not having coffee or coffee equipment in the home (or not having your favourite coffee or coffee equipment, if you live with a partner), not physically going near a coffee shop (e.g. driving different ways, meeting friends elsewhere).
  • be aware this is a very fragile and subtle situation, and you could crack at any point
  • accept failures, and relapses, as stages in the learning journey; just accept, don't beat yourself up, and start again.
  • vanity can be a strong motivator; think about whiter teeth, cleaner breath, no acne, having better thought, being a nicer person!
  • do not say you are doing it for someone else; you have to do it for yourself
  • treat this as a withdrawal from addiction, e.g.
  • consider using daily exercise (e.g. long runs, walks) (see no. 50 here;
  • you may hear yourself thinking lies, e.g. that you will have no energy, will die, "this will just be a little boost and high", etc; ignore; test it! think, even if so, I want to go through there. 
  • that you will remain in recovery, and at risk of temptation, for a lifetime.


PHASE 1; Days 1-4
[Note; for some people withdrawal only seems to take 2 days]
- bad headaches for 1-4 days (use paracetamol)
- feelings of strong anxiety, fear, despair and uncertainty for c.5 days; i.e. anxiety (GAD) goes up in the early stages of withdrawal. It is important to be ready for these feelings, and to be able to somehow manage them (maybe to expect them and to see through them (including being in a life situation for those days where you can do so (on your own?)).
- feelings of general physical fatigue are likely
- exercise, possibly very long and intense, can help in this phase.

PHASE 2; Days 5-6

- headaches may still be present, but now easing
feelings of strong anxiety, fear, despair and uncertainty may still be strong, and indeed may even peak.
- likely to also be feeling periods of reduced anxiety and better inner health.
- possible high emotional volatility on days 5-6. Can feel very good, in an unsustainable way, on day 6. In this phase there can be surprising quick relapse temptation events, almost out of nowhere (e.g. from thinking 'I've cracked it, so why not?'); vigilance is required.
- for some people, withdrawal ends here. For others, maybe with deeper physiological or psychological ties with caffeine, it can last much longer.

PHASE 3: Days 7-14

- feelings of strong anxiety, fear and uncertainty can be volatile with still strong 'hits'
- the high energy of day 6 can change into listlessness, and low energy 
- mood can be downbeat, unless work hard to lift it (e.g. positive mindset, exercise, meditation).
- exercise, possibly very long and intense, can help in this phase.
- in this phase there can be surprising quick lapse temptation events, almost out of nowhere (e.g. from thinking 'I've cracked it, so why not?'); vigilance is required.

PHASE 4: Longer-term
- possible continued feelings of anxiety, fear and uncertainty (may need to exit alcohol, sugar, chocolate etc to get free)
- possible various physical aches and pains, for 30-90 days
- possible sleep disruption, for 30-90 days
- very strong temptation at times for c.40 days
- possible low/flaky energy for maybe up to 70 days (operate in 'float', 'blind way', without needing the 'inner visibility check' of energy level that caffeine gives)
- feel very, very good, when withdrawal is advanced. E.g. "I've been off caffeine for 30 days and feel better mentally and physically than I have since high school. 

PHASE 5; Rest of Life

- possible continual temptation for a lifetime (see below).
- likely miss some aspects of caffeine e.g the drug high and energy of the hit. Just accept will live with this missing.

Advice for partners 

This includes; 
  • "help him/her avoid temptation; make your own coffee when the user won't see, smell or hear it. when with him/her avoid even driving near coffee places. go someplace else for your trips.
  • do not react too much if his/her mood swings; anxiety, anger, fatigue, quiet, whatever; this is withdrawal, it will not last, just keep loving him/her.
  • don't criticise if he/she uses other drugs a bit more than usual in this phase e.g. alcohol, sugar.
  • find another hot drink he/she likes, e.g. fruit tea, and give it to him/her at the same times and as often or more often than he/she had coffee."
Interestingly one therapist said to me; "some clients report perceived benefits of " coming off" high levels of daily caffeine and, I would say, even more often, their partners observe positive changes." It may be that caffeine users have poor self-awareness of the impact of the drug on them.


Relapse can occur after long periods of being clean (e.g. Philip Seymour Hoffman). 
You need to 
1. remain vigilant, and 
2. remain a long way, mentally, from caffeine.

Characteristics of relapse.
Dangerous moments may include
- periods of low energy
- periods of high stress
- dull periods of life, when 'nothing is going on'.

"... very good question about why I went back onto it ! If I’m honest, it was because I wanted the buzz and thought it would be different this time – despite having been through this cycle a number of times before and knowing deep down it wouldn’t be different at all. I am in recovery from other (some would say more “serious”) addictions using a 12 step programme; in my experience caffeine addiction involves the same behaviours and challenges, although nowhere near the same severity of consequences.

This is partly behind my comments about withdrawal and severity of it below. Let’s be honest, this isn’t alcoholism or addiction to hard drugs, legal or otherwise.

With recovery, I find there’s a constant battle between the addict (“one won’t hurt”, “this time it’ll be different”, “everyone else is doing it” etc.) and the true, rational, logical voice (“it always makes me feel ill”, “it’s just an addiction”, “it won’t make me feel better” etc.). If I don’t keep reminding myself of the truth of the situation and/or if there is the wrong combination of circumstances – I’m feeling particularly bad (or sometimes good), tired, fed up etc. - then I think “what the hell” and persuade myself I’ll just have one and it will be OK. One is all it seems to take for me to be back on it and before I know it I’m a few weeks down the line, feeling exhausted and depressed, banging my head on the wall and asking how I fell for it again !

So the short version of how not to relapse is take it one day at a time and don’t forget the consequences. Don’t think of the one coffee (or whatever) you’re planning, think through the full scenario and where it will end up. Anyway, I shall be going cold turkey again over the Christmas holidays, hopefully for the last time (a day at a time….)."

Beating temptation - outwit your monkey, use your advantage, use 'precommitment'.
We are not strong enough to beat our inner 'monkey man' in a straight fight, e.g. if temptation is there right in front of us. (We are continually surprised and perplexed that all our conscious logic and settled determination proves absolutely worthless in these situations. Addiction is genuinely difficult.).


- our 'monkey man' works on a very short-term focus; he/she is only aware of what is right in front of him/her. 
- we can think more strategically and further ahead than our inner monkey man. This can include taking deliberate actions to avoid temptation confrontation occuring, e.g. 
  1. having no coffee or coffee making kit in the house, 
  2. taking a walking or driving travel route that keeps us well away from the coffee shop,
  3. leaving home late so that there is no time to queue for a coffee at the coffee shop. 
  4. keeping lying to the monkey man, e.g. keep on promising the monkey man that you will have coffee soon, but then avoiding by walking or driving a way that does not go past a coffee shop
  5. distracting our mind by keeping thinking about other things, e.g. topics that fascinate and interest us. 
  6. reminding yourself that you are sick to death of life, and that nothing is important; even caffeine.
In other words we can use 'precommitment'.

This situation can feel like you are continually very, very close to temptation, and yet you remain clean. It may be that being so close to caffeine reassures your monkey man (that caffeine is there if a crisis occurs), and somehow enables temptation survival. An extreme tactic might be to actually carry coffee with you (say in a flask) but not drink it.

Successful sustained withdrawal may need stopping other drugs also e.g. alcohol.

Testimonies show that some/many people find that to achieve sustained withdrawal may need withdrawal from other brian-barrier drugs e.g. alcohol, chocolate, maybe even sugar, etc..
Having a 'clean' brain;
(a) reduces temptations and up/down experiences, which means that both the needs and weakness opportunity for taking caffeine are reduced, 
(b) gives very positive feelings of clarity, cleanness and happiness, that add to motivation to stay clean
(c) enables progress on life in general, which again also adds to motivation to stay clean.

Successful withdrawal needs accepting, and getting used to, being different
As users progress in withdrawal they may be uncomfortable at new feelings, such as
- health
- increased sensitivity to things
- the sensation of being happy
- the sensation of being more human, and thus weak perhaps
- the sensation of being vulnerable, as the 'nastiness' of caffeine, that protected them, is taken away
- the sensation that they are different, and thus may be less able or effective in what they do in their lives.
It is important to accept that 
- life will feel different
- you will be different
- the new ways of feeling will not cause collapse or damage. They will not destroy you.

There may even need to be a 'mourning' process, in which you say good bye to old ways of being, and face a different world.

Successful withdrawal needs breaking links with usage
There may be habits and people that will tend to drag you back to using; they need to be forcefully managed or avoided. It can take some time before it is safe to visit a coffee shop for a cup of tea with a friend or loved one, but alternatively it may be wise to do that soon, to break the association of those happinesses with caffeine.


Ex-users will remain vulnerable to temptation, as with any addict. 

Relapse can occur after long periods of being clean (e.g. Philip Hoffman). 

Chip Summers of Focus 12, rehabilitation charity (used heroin for 18 years. clean for 29); BBC Derbyshire, 3/2/14,  

"This is the dilemma faced by every addict who gets into recovery.
Getting out of the substance is easier that they thought it would be
The problem is dealing with the person who is left behind, without drugs which they probably used, as I did, to cover up difficult emotions, low self-esteem, things like that.

We forget what it was like when we made the decision to be abstinent... that our life was in hell. 

But we quite quickly forget what was the consequences of our using,
quite soon we have a slightly distorted memory of it,
and that's why you have to be vigilant, you have to keep on your guard,
because you can let little things creep in,
and if you let little things creep in they will gradually build up to bigger things.
We have to be vigilant if we want to be free of dependence.

'You have to keep on remembering what got you to the decision to be clean, and keep on remembering that.
I remember, on a daily basis, bring up a few mental photographs of how life was, as a heroin addict, every day. However hard life may be, it's nothing compared to being on heroin.'

'Your tolerance has been completely disordered.'

Prescription drugs (e.g. codeine-based, 'that give some comfort, a bit of a security blanket') can easily lead to other drugs.


For more on withdrawal methods;

See the testimonies above, and in e.g.

Research has been limited, with a range of withdrawal effects seen.

Beware 'hidden' caffeine 
Note that decaff coffee is still significantly caffeinated.
Other sources of caffeine are energy drinks, cola's, chocolate, non-cola soda, guarana, 'energised' oatmeal, weight-loss pills, pain relief pills, breath fresheners, etc. (see, and our links page).
Read the labels of what you are ingesting!


This site expresses personal opinions only, in some cases with supporting links and in some cases not. These opinions should not be taken as factually correct, or be relied upon, used or otherwise acted upon in any way. No liability will be accepted for any results of reading or other use of this website.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Suicide rates correlation with coffee consumption

We note a general correlation between coffee consumption and suicide rates in Western European and North American countries (sources,

South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the OECD (, having more than doubled from 1999 to 2009 (
South Korean coffee consumption did not appear relatively high in 2009, at 1.8kg per person p.a. (, having grown strongly in the 1980s ( South Korea's tea consumption was also not relatively high ( (It is not known if South Koreans tendency to drink vending machine coffee ( effects coffee consumption data).
There has been a 10x increase in the number of coffee shops from 2006 to 2011 ( This may imply that overall coffee consumption has increased markedly since 2009.

If South Korea's coffee consumption has risen after the increase in suicide rate, this may imply that coffee's relationship with suicide rates is not causal, but co-incidental.

Movements in Japan's suicide rate (
do not correlate with the big increase in 1970-85 in coffee imports (although coffee may have replaced other caffeine sources e.g. tea, and there may have been a co-incident reduction in social norms of suicide) (,r:25,s:0,i:166&iact=rc&dur=493&sig=104730183005075819911&page=1&tbnh=167&tbnw=254&start=0&ndsp=54&tx=172&ty=76)

80% or more of suicides have a mental health component.

Monday, 30 July 2012

The caffeine industries; influence on media and research?


Whilst avoiding conspiracy theories, we do need to remember that caffeine products are supplied by large and profitable industries that may be active in influencing public opinion and research around us.

Internet searches:

Searches for coffee information bring up organisations such as the below, which appear to make consistently caffeine-positive comments, and to be funded mainly or totally by coffee-involved companies and/or countries. 

Scientific research funding:


Media organisations often publish caffeine-positive articles, including comment by caffeine industry funded consultants, perhaps because balancing caffeine-negative sources are not available. 

Documents and books:

An example of documents with apparently neutral titles, but funded by the caffeine industries, is "Coffee and Health: New Research Findings" (, which 
  • includes only caffeine-positive research, and 
  • states "Grateful thanks go to ICO, CafÈ de Colombia, Illy Coffee, ColcafÈ de Colombia for providing financial support for the preparation of this book."


One recent piece of research that gained wide media coverage ( - a study of over 400,000 people, with the cohort excluding people with prior diseases) concluded that coffee increased longevity. 
However the basic finding was "In age-adjusted models, the risk of death was increased among coffee drinkers.
The writers then applied an adjustment for tobacco-smoking, which reversed the result; this seems questionably simplistic and subjective. 
Furthermore, in the analysis in this research between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee (Fig 1), the results seem roughly equal for men, and decaff gives better results than caff for women.
Perhaps this study should be retitled "Warm beverage consumption linked to lower risk of death" or 'coffee/decaff neutral for men, decaff better for women'...

Other research may be distorted by very ill people (e.g. near to death) being on extreme feeding patterns which include not taking in normal foods (such as coffee); the inclusion of such people could bias the overall health results of such studies towards coffee.

The deeper point is that caffeine may have some physical health benefits, but sufferers should be made aware of all possible health effects, including mental health. 

For many people the benefits of reduction or elimination of anxiety and other mental health effects will strongly outweigh possible positive physical effects. 


Other caffeine industry bodies include
  •  International Coffee Association. "The Organization is financed by contributions from Member Governments who pay a contribution based upon their average coffee exports or imports as a percentage of total exports or imports." The Executive Director's CV includes Director of the Coffee Department in the Brazilian government, Secretary‑General of the Association of Coffee Producing Countries and Secretary‑General of the Brazilian Federation of Coffee Exporters.
  •  National Coffee Association USA - trade association.
  • "The BCA provides the representative voice for all the UK coffee trade and industry and promotes and safeguards members’ interests..."
Other bodies of interest are

World production of coffee has grown from 113m bags in 2000/1 to 131m bags in 2011/12 (


This site expresses personal opinions only, in some cases with supporting links and in some cases not. These opinions should not be taken as factually correct, or be relied upon, used or otherwise acted upon in any way. No liability will be accepted for any results of reading or other use of this website.

For people unable to exit caffeine


(a) take caffeine in small, frequent doses.

We feel this may fit with Warren Buffet's regular drinking of Cherry Coke through the day (only 34mg of caffeine per can, c.f. 150mg in a Starbucks Grande Cappuccino). We also feel this may be very hard for many users to do.

This would also fit with the thesis that the anxiety experienced by some caffeine users on waking is due to early caffeine withdrawal (having not ingested overnight), and could be avoided by frequent ingestion overnight or immediate ingestion on waking.

(b) choose appropriate cognitive tasks whilst being effected by caffeine; speed not depth of thought.

The body habituates to caffeine, depriving the user of any 'caffeine high' or energy boost if used continuously. Thus logically a person seeking the best 'highs' should take a break from caffeine for as long as possible, to de-habituate the body before re-starting ingestion. During that break they may re-evaluate their intake desire.

(c) take breaks from caffeine, to maximise the high when you return

"I do, in fact, take a break for a day, or a few days, max, once in a while to reduce the tolerance effect and feel again the effect of coffee at lower doses."

"If/when you go back to coffee after a break you can expect a whirlwind of mental activity and new ideas will fizz up. So, don't waste the opportunity: drink alone and have a notebook ready to jot them down! Somewhat countercultural advice, I know. I agree that getting 'high', as well as stimulating and mixing ideas, does seem to impair our judgement about them. That's why I suggest writing them down. They may then be criticised at leisure to see if anything valuable remains, because, of course, the truth of an idea depends on its content and not upon its source or the mood the source happened to be in!"


This site expresses personal opinions only, in some cases with supporting links and in some cases not. These opinions should not be taken as factually correct, or be relied upon, used or otherwise acted upon in any way. No liability will be accepted for any results of reading or other use of this website.



  • There is strong research support for association between caffeine and anxiety. E.g.  "we selected eight randomized, double-blind studies where caffeine was administered orally, and none of them controlled for confounding factors in the analysis. ... The eight studies all showed a positive association between caffeine and anxiogenic effects and/or panic disorder."
  • The research base for improving mental health by stopping caffeine intake is almost non-existent, but is positive (see below). 

ANXIETY (incl. GAD, PTSD, panic disorder)

Anxiety and caffeine use are often correlated
  1. 1996, "there is clinical and experimental evidence that acute caffeine can exacerbate the effects of an anxiety-inducing situation, or worsen an existing anxiety disorder, especially panic disorder."
  2. 2008, "These findings support the hypothesis that individuals with PTSD would report higher levels of caffeine than individuals without PTSD."
  3. 2011, Literature review, "The 8 studies all showed a positive association between caffeine and anxiogenic [anxiety causing] effects and/or panic disorder.
  4. 2015: Secondary school children; "positive associations between total weekly caffeine intake and anxiety and depression remained significant,"  
Anxiety sufferers have high caffeine sensitivity
  1. 1985, "It appears that anxiety disorder patients have increased caffeine sensitivity"
  2. 1988, "panic patients have increased sensitivity to caffeine",
  3. 1992, "patients with GAD are abnormally sensitive to caffeine"
  4. 2007, "Our data suggest that there is an association between panic attacks, no matter if associated with PD or MDP, and hyperreactivity to an oral caffeine challenge test."
  5. 2010: 'Caffeine-induced anxiety is associated with a particular gene variant."
This is a key finding; some people feel ‘surely I am fine because I am only drinking 1-2 cups per day’, but this 'low' dosage may be very high for their sensitivity.

Some people are slow metabolizers of caffeine, raising heart attack risk.

  • 23andme genetic analysis cites Cornelis MC et al. (2006) . “Coffee, CYP1A2 genotype, and risk of myocardial infarction.” JAMA 295(10):1135-41.; "people with the slower version of the CYP1A2 enzyme who also drank at least two to three cups of coffee per day had a significantly increased risk of a non-fatal heart attack."
see also;   

For some people, anxiety can be very much reduced by coming off caffeine.

  1. 1989, of 24 cases of GAD or Panic Disorder, 5 ceased caffeine intake and 1 significantly reduced caffeine intake; all 6 (25% of the sample group) saw much reduced symptoms many months later, and 5 took no further medication. In addition, 3 of the 6 took caffeine on one subsequent occasion and all 3 immediately saw anxiety symptoms occur. 
  2. ".... I had worked with several different patients who came to me having made no progress in getting their anxiety under control, no matter what was tried. They were often at a point of desperation. When I asked about their caffeine intake, almost without fail there was an unusual quantity of caffeine in their diet. .... But once these patients got their caffeine intake under 200mg/day—and most of them went off of it completely—their anxiety improved dramatically." Alison Lighthall,
  3. Anecdotal testimonies, e.g.
On my GPs advice I slowly cut down then stopped my caffeine intake. My anxiety has decreased from being around 8/9 out of 10 every day to around 3/4 out of 10. This could be due to a few things but I believe that cutting caffeine out of my diet has had a major impact. The most positive thing I’ve done to reduce my anxiety ever!

I am currently on month 7 of no caffeine (including chocolate)... It took me at least a month for my energy to come back to baseline and my motivation/focus is still slowly recovering. I haven't felt this good in years. My stress and anxiety levels are WAY down and I'm much more relaxed and calm around people.

I am now 7 months clean, apart from 1 lapse 4 months ago.
I definitely am way, way better than when on caffeine:
1. GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) basically gone. finito. no more early hours high heart rate, sweating etc.
2. energy level overall higher and much more even.
3. thoughts and thinking better, more balanced, stronger (less garbled).
4. personal relationships way better; less angry, aggressive.
5. able to move onto other challenges and opportunities in life.

See refs. in 'other people are exiting' section below, including 
Rather than caffeine intake and mental illness being co-incident (for instance if caffeine is being taken as a stress reliever in a high stress environment, or as self-medication for mental illness), these examples show cessation of symptoms when caffeine intake is stopped, implying that caffeine intake is causal.

Mental ill-health may not appear for a considerable period after caffeine intake begins. 
  1. We note that in the 1989 study referred to above,, in none of the cases had the onset of symptoms coincided with an increase in caffeine consumption.
In general:
  1. 2012, "a trial of caffeine abstinence in cases of anxiety should always be encouraged"' Dr Malcolm Bruce (researcher; see 1989 above, NHS doctor).
The US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , known as the DSM-IV-TR includes four caffeine-related disorders: 
  • caffeine intoxication, 
  • caffeine-induced anxiety disorder, 
  • caffeine-induced sleep disorder, and 
  • caffeine related disorder not otherwise specified. 
A fifth, caffeine withdrawal, is listed under the heading of "Criteria Sets and Axes Provided for Further Study." (

(Note: A possible thesis; anxiety is due to caffeine withdrawal, rather than caffeine use.

This thesis correlates with; 
(a) strong anecdotal evidence of anxiety being experienced during caffeine withdrawal, and 
(b) some anecdotal evidence that some caffeine users experience anxiety on waking up (i.e. in early withdrawal having not ingested overnight), although this could be due to other affects, e.g. alcohol hang-over effects for users in a caffeine-alcohol using cycle.)


See Articles on this blog on;
  • Psychosis/Schizophrenia
  • Finland
  • US Military
  • Suicide rates in Western European and North American countries

    "Increased public education about potential health problems related to caffeine consumption is suggested, and further controls of caffeine in psychiatric settings are recommended."

    HIgh consumption of caffeine can itself produce effects similar to mental illness: (the 3rd reply is also interesting)

    Mental ill-health effects can also be experienced due to other drugs which are being taken to counteract caffeine effects. For instance taking alcohol to dull the tension caused by caffeine; alcohol causes sleep disruption and depression.


    "Consuming caffeine regularly does not appear to produce any net beneficial effects, based on the measures we examined.

    We believe that most people have wrong views about the benefits they are gaining from taking caffeine. They are not noticing that;
    • their morning 'fatigue and grumpiness' before drinking coffee are not due to personality or fatigue, but are symptoms of caffeine drug withdrawal (after abstention overnight). (e.g.
    • the initial brief feeling of relief from stress and anxiety is more than net outweighed by increased anxiety for many hours later on (which may also lead to alcohol ingestion)
    • the initial 'energy boost' and 'caffeine high' they used to feel when taking caffeine is reduced over the long-term, as their bodies habituate to the drug. 
    • their physical energy through the day can be very changeable, with very low energy periods. (Exhaustion can result from being in 'fight-or-flight state for long periods due to being highly caffeineated, and sleep can be disrupted; quote: "You can always tell who the coffee drinkers are: they're the ones who are tired all the time.")  They may also experience other physical aches and pains. 
    • Users may feel they are more productive, but actually are not; Caffeine does not lead to greater life effectiveness

    A good summary of caffeine's effects is:
    "I can’t ignore the energy boost and mental acceleration that comes from caffeine. 

    But I do notice negative side effects when I drink coffee. 

    Caffeine seems to make part of my brain overactive and another part underactive. I become really good at doing things, but very bad at prioritizing what needs to be done. If I drink a lot of coffee, I’ll often spend hours doing a bunch of low priority tasks, and I find that other unproductive habits are more likely to be done excessively. I become like a rat in a treadmill, doing more and more but not accomplishing what really matters. I find it very hard to focus on the big picture from a holistic whole-brain standpoint if I’ve consumed caffeine.

    I also feel that caffeine blocks too much of my intuition and creativity. I miss subtle sensory input, and my thinking becomes too linear. 

    Sometimes linear thinking is OK though. If I have a lot of menial tasks to complete, and I already have a clear to-do list to follow, drinking a cup of coffee can get me through them quickly. 

    But if I have to sit down and do high-level work like developing my next quarterly plan, caffeine will make a mess of my thought process and dramatically reduce my ability to concentrate. My mind races too much on caffeine; it’s hard to stay focused on just one thing.

    Additionally, caffeine definitely disrupts my sleep habits. Even if I have a cup of coffee in the morning and none for the rest of the day, I don’t sleep as well. I wake up in the middle of the night, or it’s hard for me to get out of bed in the morning. When I consume no caffeine, I sleep more restfully and wake up easily. I also don’t experience so much midday sleepiness."

    Video: notice how by 3.30 she is speeding up.


    56% of caffeine users report a desire or unsuccessful attempts to stop or reduce usage, and 14% do stop. (Substance Abuse: A comprehensive textbook" Juliano, Anderson, Griffiths, 2011).

    See e.g.;  excellent (170+ pages of comments very largely from people trying to stop taking caffeine!)


    Both of the 2012 and one of the 2015 US presidential candidates were non-caffeine-takers. (Whilst one can be cynical about politicians, people who achieve this role are probably relatively highly effective in some ways.)


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