What is Caffeinism?
What is Caffeinism? Are you an addict?
Is it a new religion, based on placing your faith (and money) in Starbucks to help you get through daily life? Is it practiced by Hollywood mega-stars who will soon be bouncing on the couches of talk show hosts nationwide promoting their system of belief? No, not quite. But caffeine has become embedded into our culture to such an extent that we consume it in blind faith, often ignoring the consequences.
“Although infrequently diagnosed, caffeinism is thought to afflict as many as one person in ten of the population.”
by JE James and KP Stirling, in the British Journal of Addiction
Coffee Addiction - Scrubs Style
- "A condition resulting from a very high intake of caffeine and characterized by anxiety, mood swings, sleep disruption, and other physiological and psychological abnormalities. Abstinence following high intake can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as severe headaches. A caffeine intake of more than 600 mg per day may produce depression and other harmful effects. Caffeine intoxification is recognized as a medical condition in the USA." Oxford University Press
- "a morbid condition caused by caffeine (as from excessive consumption of coffee)" Mirriam-Webster Dictionary
- “Caffeine-induced psychosis, whether it be delirium, manic depression, schizophrenia, or merely an anxiety syndrome, in most cases will be hard to differentiate from organic or non-organic psychoses…." The Caffeine Web
- "a toxic condition caused by excessive ingestion of coffee and other caffeine-containing beverages" GreenGonzo Dictionary
- "Symptoms range form minimal reactions to severe psychotic states, which may include irrational behavior, disruptions in attention, lack of focus and comprhension, mood changed, lack of organizational skilss, abrupt shifting of activities, delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia." Ruth Whalen, MLT
Caffeinism and ADD/ADHD
I had never heard the term caffeinism until just the other day. I was reading a book about AD/HD called "Driven to Distraction," by E. Hallowell and J. Ratey. The authors were discussing conditions that can mask and/or mimic the symptoms of AD/HD (distractibility, issues with short term memory, inability to sit still). The list included things like anxiety, chronic fatigue, psychosis, and caffeinism which the author defined as excessive intake of coffee and soda.
Are You at Risk?
If you think you may be a little excessive in your caffeine intake, take the following test. It will survey your total daily intake from all sources and based on the personal results, show you where you may be at risk.
Calculate your risks here: Caffeine Awareness
Me, Myself and Caffeine
Are they kidding? Sure, anything in excess is not good for you. I knew that I should be drinking that healthy 8 glasses of water a day instead but could it really be that harmful? Is it true that coffee and soda (which I drink continuously through the day) could be the reason I can't get anything done because I can't remember what it is that I am supposed to be doing? My beloved coffee could be at fault when I want to jump out of my skin and scream when something is boring me? Could this be what has caused me, a somewhat well educated person with a nice IQ to do really stupid, flaky things on a regular basis?
Here are some illustrations.
- Just this morning, I stopped at the ATM, got some cash and drove away. It was not until I went to pay for my very large coffee that I realised I had left my card in the ATM.
- I have quit at least a dozen jobs out of sheer boredom.
- I drove without a license for years -not because I was rebelling against the system or trying to hide from authorities - but because I forgot to mail in the renewal form.
- I did it again when we moved to a new state. First, I couldn't remember to go to the DMV to get it transferred. Then I tried to go, but had to leave several times because I could not tolerate stand in the line like a robot for another minute.
- I carry two set of car keys with me so I won't lock myself out of my car.
- I chronically lock myself out of my house when I take my oldest daughter to the school bus in the morning. I once had to pry open a narrow basement window and carefully maneuver my 8-months-pregnant belly through it to get into the house, where I had left my younger daughter napping.
- I start brilliant organizing projects, novels, children's books- but never finish them.
- I jump from topic to topic when I am talking. Sometimes I interrupt myself mid-sentence to change ideas. I often don't finish my ... you get the point!
You would think that with all the caffeine in my system, I would walk around wired all day and be unable to sleep at night, but I am not. I could take a nap right now, just lay my head down on the keyboard, even though I am, at this moment drinking coffee.
If you and I met tomorrow at Starbucks, you would think I was a calm sort of person. And you would be mostly right.
I should add that I quit caffeine during my three pregnancies, so in theory, I should know if I was "clear minded" without it.
I don't know. I really can't remember.
What was my point anyway? Seriously, I distracted myself with my own ranting.
YES! I just took a ten minute break from writing this and now I remember.
All of this could be the result of caffeinism.
And, if you read this far you probably have a nice healthy attention span.
Unfortunately, the only treatment for caffeinism is to stop ingesting caffeine.
I'm not making any promises...
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