Dear Dr. R,
My day crumbles if I don’t drink my 5 cups of coffee in the morning. I am taking my Master’s Degree and working at a high tech firm. I’m afraid I’m becoming useless, unproductive and irritable without my daily dose. Help!
Dear Caffeine Dependent,
You described yourself perfectly. Dependency is actually a “state where the individual is dependent upon the drug for normal physiological functioning”.
In the DSM IV (Guideline for Psychiatric diagnosis) 400 to 500 mg of caffeine at a time is considered caffeine overdose. The typical percolated coffee provides 80 to 135 mg of caffeine per cup. Just do the math . . . you are definitely taking too much. The FDA typically recognizes caffeine as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) since typical toxic levels is determined as 10 grams or more. However, presuming you are taking 5 cups of coffee, you are actually consuming 675 mg at short period of time. This definitely would explain your dependency. What you are actually experiencing when you do not take your daily dose are actually WITHDRAWAL symptoms. Coffee in moderation can decrease your risk for certain cancers but in excess puts you at increase risk for HTN and cardiac arrythmias and maybe even diabetes. For your information, caffeine dependency is now one of the serious health concerns of the 1st world countries. It is presently being managed with homeopathic medicines, hypnosis and/or counseling. Recognizing that you have a problem is one of the most difficult self realizations.
Dr. Reagan graduated medical school from University of Santo Tomas. He completed residency at a Mount Sinai/New York University Internal Medicine program in New York. He is currently working currently as a Hospitalist.
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