Sunday, June 16, 2013

If you love your coffee...?



The Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental illnesses and addictions in both adults and children.  The first edition came out in 1952 and the latest revised edition came out in May.
Why should you care?   Actually, you might find yourself classified in the revised manual….really!
Were you one of people in the massive line ups at Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s last Sunday?  Why last Sunday?  Well, it was the commencement of the annual summer Sunday morning “no coffee at home because Hydro is repairing the lines and has shut off the power” weekend.  For those not familiar with syndrome, it is an annual ritual in Northern Ontario often lasting a series of weeks. 
Back to the line ups…yes, the main item being served up seemed to be caffeine (in its various forms of coffee, tea, chocolate, ice cream and soft drinks). This has led me to wonder if we are “addicted” and if we are, is this a problem?
According to the Manual, caffeine can be.   It includes:  Caffeine induced anxiety disorder, Caffeine induced sleep disorder and for the true hard core addict, an over dose of caffeine can lead to  Caffeine intoxication (jitteriness, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, muscle twitching,  gastro intestinal upset, fever, sensory disturbances, muscle twitching and rapid heartbeat). 
The latest revision of the Manual now includes Caffeine Withdrawal as a disorder:  which includes fatigue, headache and difficulty focusing but only if it affects your daily functioning.  (Try and take the morning coffee pot out of the common room at work in the morning and we’ll see who has difficulty functioning).
Is caffeine addiction really that serious, is it really a problem?  Can we really equate it with life changing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that have a major impact on day to day life?  Perhaps you may not even know what these significant illnesses are….but you have likely heard about them in terms of “wacko”, “nuts’ or “crazy”.
I personally think that adding illnesses and addictions such as Caffeine related disorders to the official psychiatric manual is watering down our perception of what real mental illness is.
The question is: Do you really want to wear the same label as someone who is mentally ill because you love your Tims?  How would that feel?   Persons with a true mental illness have no more choice in the matter than someone who “chooses” cancer.  So let’s not water down mental illness by including coffee, but let’s think about it the next time we refer to someone as being crazy or nuts.  According to the DSM Manual, we could all be there.

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