DSM's Latest Mental Disorder: Caffeine Withdrawal

Must have 3 of 5 symptoms, according to DSM-5
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2013 12:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – If you've ever gone a day without caffeine and felt like you were going insane, well, you may not have been far off. The American Psychiatric Association has added caffeine withdrawal to the latest version of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. To be officially diagnosed, you must have at least three of these five symptoms within a day of quitting or reducing caffeine: headache, fatigue or drowsiness, depressed mood or irritability, difficulty concentrating, or flulike symptoms. And those symptoms must cause "clinically significant distress or impairment," meaning they must affect your ability to function.

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The DSM-5 also lists caffeine intoxication as a mental disorder, but that had already been included in a previous version. And caffeine use disorder (basically, an inability to quit caffeine due to side effects when you try) was added to the DSM-5 as a research diagnosis, meaning it needs further study before being included as a full diagnosis. All three are controversial, the Wall Street Journal reports. "Caffeine intoxication and withdrawal both occur fairly frequently but only rarely cause enough clinically significant impairment to be considered a mental disorder," says the chair of the task force that developed the previous version of the DSM. "We shouldn't medicalize every aspect of life and turn everyone into a patient." (Read more caffeine stories.)

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