caffeine intoxicationDid you know that drinking too much caffeine might now get you a certified mental health disorder, according to the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5. Two new diagnoses have made it into the latest edition, caffeine intoxication and caffeine withdrawal. Uh oh, I might be in danger of a new diagnosis.

Before you start hiding your Keurig, there will be no caffeine police busting down your door and apprehending you for continuing to drink obscene amounts of Diet Coke or Salted Caramel Mocha Lattes from Starbucks. Whew! But you seriously might find yourself at the receiving end of a diagnosis of Can’t handle your caffeine. Doctors say that if you limit yourself to one serving a day, you shouldn’t have any problems. Drink in moderation and you will be just peachy.

Don’t worry; there is a whole list of criteria that you have to meet before a psychiatrist will label you with the diagnosis. To be diagnosed with caffeine withdrawal you must suffer from three of the five symptoms; headache, fatigue, depression/ irritability, concentration difficulty, and flu-like symptoms such as nausea or muscle aches within 24 hours of quitting. Sound familiar? It does to me.

To be diagnosed with caffeine intoxication, the jittery feeling of over-stimulation, a person must exhibit at least five of a dozen symptoms. These symptoms include restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, frequent urination, stomach upset, muscle twitching, cluttered thoughts, a fluttering heart, manic behavior, and psycho-motor agitations like pacing. Ever had any of these? Me, too. Yikes!

Sure, caffeine is addictive just like nicotine, alcohol, and food. We all know that too much of anything is bad for you but is it a mental health disorder? I'm not sure I like feeling lumped in with heroine addicts for having a cup of coffee or diet Coke. Is drinking mass quantities of caffeine enough to be labeled crazy? Too much caffeine may make your mental state unstable, that is true but once the caffeine leaves your system so does the behavior unlike most other psychiatric diagnoses.

I feel like it’s more of a conscious choice to abuse caffeine and most mental health disorders are not something a person has a choice in it’s more of a compulsion propelled by some mental need, deficit or desire.

Caffeine is a drug that is readily available and accepted so we let it slip when people are drinking 32 ounces of Mountain Dew, drinking 7 Red Bulls in a day or on their fifth latte by noon. But no more, now the DSM is putting us all on notice. I don't need another diagnosis but I am also not willing to give up my caffeine. I guess I’ll start drinking my coffee behind closed doors and under the cloak of darkness. Sorry, Starbucks.

How do you feel about caffeine consumption being labeled as a mental health disorder?


Image via Flickr/ Helga Weber