It seems most people need a jolt from java in the morning (and maybe a few more boosts later in the day), but for some, that regular hankering can actually be Caffeine Use Disorder (CUD). The World Health Organization recognizes CUD, as they do other drug dependencies-not that you've necessarily heard of CUD before. So how do you know if you have it? That's what Laura Juliano, PhD, a psychology professor at American University, set out to determine when she teamed up with colleagues to specify CUD's symptoms and causes in a review just published in the Journal of Caffeine Research. Photo by Jonny Valiant; Prop styling by Marina Malchin.
Dr. Juliano advises sticking to less than 400 mg of caffeine every day-the amount in two or three 8-oz cups of coffee. Pregnant women shouldn't have more than 200 mg daily, and those with anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart problems and urinary incontinence should also limit it.
To tell if you have CUD, John R. Hughes, MD, a psychology and psychiatry professor at the University of Vermont who helped with the study, recommends nixing caffeine entirely and watching for those withdrawal symptoms. "For the large majority of people, it's not going to be an issue," he says. Even though a small percentage may experience withdrawal when they do this test, millions of Americans may have CUD. If you get those withdrawal symptoms, gradually reduce your caffeine intake over a few months, Dr. Hughes suggests. For instance, try cutting your daily number of cups of coffee or drinking half-caff blends. In short, there's hope if you find that you just can't live without your Keurig.