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Coffee and depression: How do they relate?

Coffee and depression

Coffee is seemingly beloved by everyone. Over half of American adults drink the brew every day, and hundreds of millions of cups are drunk every day in the USA alone. Whether you make coffee using coffee makers like these or get it from a shop or restaurant on your way to work, there is no doubting how popular it is. But what is coffee doing to us and our minds? Is it affecting how we feel, act, or behave? In particular, many people wonder about the link between coffee and depression, and if there is a connection at all.

An overview of coffee and depression

Depression is unfortunately very common as hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from it in some capacity. Many of these people may wonder whether drinking coffee will worsen their depression, or actually help to treat it? Hence the reason for this article is to take a close look at the relationship between coffee and depression.

If you’re looking for a definitive answer, though, unfortunately, there isn’t one. However, that doesn’t mean there is no relation between the two. Studies and surveys have ended up on both sides of the spectrum. Some research reveals coffee can improve and help treat depression, while others indicate that it worsens mental illness.

First, let’s look at some of the potential positives of caffeine for depression.

Research on coffee and depression: The positives

From a short-term standpoint, caffeine has proven helpful for college students getting through stressful times like deadlines. So, caffeinated beverages, which include a cup of joe, can be part of a stress-alleviation strategy.

Furthermore, UK researchers looked at associations between caffeine intake and health (mental and physical). Their findings include an improvement in reduced risk of depression in those subjects who consumed coffee or tea regularly (about 140mg per day).

Some research also points to the role of caffeine in reducing the potential for suicide. Drinking multiple (between 1 and 4) cups of coffee has also been shown in this Journal of Affective Disorders study to reduce suicidal ideation in women.

Also, the caffeine in coffee can help improve your mood, alertness, and engagement level. The hot or cold brew can have numerous health benefits, actually.

These positive points can be helpful on a day-to-day level as well as overtime, perhaps increasing personal motivation or helping boost productivity over time.

Can coffee have a negative effect on a depressed person?

Just as research reveals positive links between coffee and depression, there are also studies that show negatives between caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, and depression.

As a stimulant, caffeine can raise anxiety, especially if having more than the FDA’s safety-minded limit of 400mg per day for adults. If you find you are irritable and restless, a possible factor in play that you might not yet have considered is an abundance of caffeine in the day.

Also, this 2015 research finding is that large doses of caffeine can negatively affect sleep cycles and circadian rhythm. All of which can contribute to depression.

That sleep disruption can be the result of the effects of caffeinated bevies on neurotransmitters in the brain. If a structure that promotes sleep gets a buzz from coffee, for example, then no wonder rest doesn’t come easy when it’s bedtime!

Summary of coffee and depression

In conclusion, there is no conclusion. There’s no definitive answer to whether caffeine helps depression or makes it worse instead, as we see from the variety of research results shown above.

Also, every person is unique. Thus, the mental health effects will differ on a case-to-case basis, with one dose being the source of agitation for Person A while Person B notices no difference in mood.

Overall, it seems best to enjoy coffee in moderation either way and simply pay attention to both physical and mental responses to determine what works best for you.

More research will happen in the future that will hopefully provide us with more detailed and precise answers about the complex relationship between coffee and depression.

Do you notice your body and mind responding to caffeinated drinks when you have them? Are you a coffee lover?

11 thoughts on “Coffee and depression: How do they relate?”

  1. Hi Christy…

    Great article and coffee and what has become a part of most peoples lives. It certainly is a stimulant and has the opposite effect when it begins to wear off. Several years ago a pot was always on and I was its best customer. Today I am a two-cupper if I may use the term and nothing after lunch but herbal tea sweetened with honey.

    Excellent work Christy… Hugs


    1. Tea with honey sounds terrific too, Rolly. Thanks for sharing your caffeination habits, including how they’ve changed over time. Wishing you a nice evening ahead.

  2. I really love this blog although I’m not a big coffee drinker myself. As a Traditional Indian Healer, I’ve really tapped into the different thought processes of Easterners & Westerners if you like and in Western culture, coffee plays a major part in many people’s lives. I love the way you write about such a basic thing that we all take for granted, in such a broad way. The other day whilst planning a Mindfulness session I came across a wonderful quote but unfortunately I don’t know the author but here it is……
    “Several cups of coffee a day, is a most delightful way of telling your body you don’t care how exhausted it is.”
    Best wishes Julie

  3. I did sort of know this, Christy, but it is always good to be reminded in black on white about the negative effects of too much coffee. I can only drink one cup a day or I get hyperactive (or more hyperactive – smile)

  4. In terms of anxiety by doing things which can calm the nerves is helpful and each one has their own recipe for that. And for coffee loyalists,it will indeed help them when they bow down to their caffeine lord.
    Depression however I feel is an entirely different area. Tough to expect that, just by drinking/avoiding coffee it might have an impact.

  5. Either people love coffee or they hate coffee.No one compromises with coffee. Coffee lovers come out of depression with the help of coffee.But yes,moderation is required either its coffee or tea!

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