Saturday, May 12, 2007

Why My Coffee Addiction is Okay

From Psychology Today:

Decaf: The Next Disorder?
Caffeine withdrawal merits a listing in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but research shows it can also have some positive health benefits.

Should a slip in the daily routine prevent you from quaffing your "cup of ambition," you probably don't need a caffeine researcher to tell you what will happen next -- you will start to feel sick.

So sick, in fact, that caffeine withdrawal merits inclusion in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, the official roster of psychiatric maladies, according to a review of 170 years of research.

What's next on the list: "bad seafood syndrome" or "chocolate fever"? Roland Griffiths, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the study's lead researcher, says the proposal is no joke. While some have argued that psychiatry pathologizes normal human predicaments, he believes caffeine withdrawal's inclusion in the DSM will help physicians and psychologists be sensitive to its sometimes debilitating symptoms. Java addicts and Diet Coke fiends may suffer more than the usual headache and fatigue, he insists. Depression, irritability or even flu-like nausea and muscle pain can result when users are denied their fix, even if they normally sip just one cup per day.

And while coffee addicts fervently attest to caffeine's benefits, and claim they can't greet coworkers or turn on their computer without it, Griffiths says that's the addiction talking. As their tolerance to the stuff increases, the stimulatory effects diminish. Eventually, morning java just staves off withdrawal.

Despite having christened a new disorder, Griffiths doesn't think there is anything wrong with caffeine dependency, unless you are pregnant or suffer from anxiety or heart problems.

A Bad Rap

A few cups a day may do more good than harm. Moderate coffee drinkers are at decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes, gallstones and colon cancer. They also show improved cognitive function and develop fewer cases of Parkinson's disease.

Yeah, that's right, coffee helps you. Take that - every person whose every told me it didn't. Psshhh.

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