Thursday, May 1, 2014

You Need to Hate Coffee to Avoid Depression

Many people love coffee. However, studies have shown that people who need the caffeine equivalent of just one cup of coffee a day will experience symptoms of caffeine withdrawal if they miss their daily infusion. These symptoms include headaches, irritability, low energy, and fatigue, and can last up to four days. Symptoms of too much caffeine include diarrhea, irritability, insomnia, panic, palpitations and rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, anxiety, and gradual weight gain.

You can avoid caffeine withdrawal, if you prefer, by slowly weaning yourself off caffeinated drinks (coffee and sodas). Reduce your caffeine intake by 25 percent of your daily intake every two or three-days. You should have your addiction broken within two weeks. If you feel headachy after you've reduced your intake, stay at that amount for an extra day or two before reducing your intake further.

You may decide to quit caffeine "cold turkey," which can cause caffeine withdrawal symptoms but has the advantage of helping you to understand that caffeine is as much a drug as any prescription medication. (I've often thought that if caffeine had to pass the Food and Drug Administration approval process, it would be labeled a controlled substance, since it is addictive, can reduce the seizure threshold, and can cause heart arrhythmia's and trigger gastrointestinal distress.) If you choose this route, do it when the impact on your life will be minimal, such as on a weekend or during a slow period at work.

Remedies for caffeine headaches include a warm shower or bath, drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water throughout the day, an over-the-counter pain reliever (make sure it doesn't contain caffeine), exercise, and time.

People often ask me: "How about decaf?" I prefer that you avoid decaf beverages because they do contain some caffeine, and because decaf keeps you one step closer to the real thing and the temptation to relapse. Try out a few non-caffeinated herbal teas if you like a warm drink in the morning.

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