Dr. Charles O'Brien, who heads up the DSM's Substance-Related Disorder Work Group, explains: “Caffeine is a drug, a mild stimulant, which is used by almost everybody on a daily basis. But, it does have a letdown afterwards. If you drink a lot of coffee, at least two or three [eight ounce] cups at a time, there will be a rebound or withdrawal effect.” Withdrawal symptoms highlighted in the new manual include "restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diuresis, gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, tachycardia or cardiac arrhythmia, and periods of inexhaustibility or psychomotor agitation."
And while we don't doubt that a major caffeine intake can make you feel loopy, we're not sure that it's quite serious enough for inclusion in a manual dedicated to mental disorders. In fact, we have to agree with Policy Mic's Shwetika Baijal that "this designation is infuriating for mental health professionals who are actually trying to build awareness of actually debilitating disorders," especially considering that this latest edition also demotes Asperger's as a specific syndrome, instead of grouping it under the autism spectrum.
What do you think? Is caffeine addiction a problem like any other drug dependence, or does this classification insult those suffering from other, more widely recognized disorders?
Photographed by Kate Hoffman.