Is coffee good for depression

Coffee can reduce depression risk by up to one-third

Coffee can reduce depression risk by up to one-third

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08 May 2020 | NEW YORK – Drinking coffee can reduce depression risk by up to one third, according to a comprehensive new review conducted by a leading researcher in neurology.

Dr. Alan Leviton of Harvard University conducted the review and commented: "Evidence shows that coffee drinkers are significantly less likely to be depressed than people who do not drink coffee.

“Coffee’s positive impact on mental health appears to be related to its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and microbiome-promoting properties, which are also associated with coffee drinkers’ reduced risk of developing certain cancers and chronic diseases. "

Coffee’s positive impact on mental health may be related to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as to caffeine’s ability to block receptors in people’s brains from binding with a chemical that causes fatigue and depressed mood.

The new research released today (Friday), evaluating data from more than 100 meta-analyses and independent peer-reviewed studies over five years and covering 300,000 individuals across the world, was commissioned by the U.S. National Coffee Association (NCA).

The study comes during National Health Month in the United States, as medical professionals around the world warn the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns may create a mental health crisis.

Even prior to the pandemic, one in five Americans suffered from mental illness. Calls to the U.S. government’s mental health crisis hotline rocketed up more than 1000% in April alone as the coronavirus claimed tens of thousands of lives and tens of millions of jobs.

The greatest mental health benefits come from drinking at least two cups of coffee per day. Of almost 10,000 adults in the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, those who drank at least 2 cups of coffee per day experienced a 32% lower prevalence of self-reported depression than people who did not drink coffee.

In a study of 14,000 university students in Spain who continue to be followed, those who drank at least four cups of coffee per day were more than 20% less likely to be diagnosed clinically-significant depression.

While further research is necessary to determine the exact relationship between mental health and the more than 1,000 natural compounds in coffee, the study identifies key potential pathways for coffee’s impact on mental health, including:

  1. Coffee reduces oxidation. Studies included in the review showed people experiencing depression have elevated levels of oxidative-stress indicators in their blood. Women exhibiting depression symptoms tended to have diets lower in antioxidants capacity (attributed, in part, to lower coffee consumption). Coffee is  the leading source of antioxidants in Americans’ diets.
  2. Coffee fights inflammation. Depressed people tend to have higher blood levels of inflammation-related proteins than people who are not depressed, and suicidal ideation has also been associated with inflammation. Medications that are commonly used to treat depression (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs) lower the blood concentrations of some inflammation indicators, raising the possibility that the therapeutic effects of these drugs might, in part, reflect their anti-inflammatory properties. Studies reviewed in the meta-analysis show coffee’s anti-inflammatory properties are associated with decreased depression.
  3. Caffeine blocks mood-depressing chemicals in the brain. Caffeine blocks receptors in the brain from binding with a chemical (adenosine) that causes fatigue and depressed mood. Studies in the review show that people who drink more coffee have higher adenosine concentration in their blood as the chemical has been  blocked from binding with these receptors. Amongst those suffering from bipolar disorder, adenosine binding to neuroreceptors lowers adenosine concentration in the blood and is associated with more severe symptoms. Coffee is the primary source of caffeine in participants’ diets in most large-scale studies.
  4. Coffee’s impact on gut health promotes mental health. Probiotics are microorganisms that improve gut health and decrease depression in randomized trials. Some components in coffee (“prebiotics”) feed these microorganisms, enhancing the creation of fatty acids and neurotransmitters that confer mental health benefits and are deficient in people who are depressed. Studies reviewed show considerable evidence supports that gut microbiota influence the occurrence of depression.

NCA President & CEO Bill Murray commented: “With the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increasing stress for many, this new review of coffee’s mental health benefits is welcome news. Evidence across the board points to coffee drinkers living longer, healthier, happier lives.

NCA’s “Atlas of American Coffee” (the National Coffee Data Trends Report) released in March 2020 showed coffee remains America’s favorite beverage, with 7 in 10 Americans drinking coffee at least once a week and daily consumption up 5% in the last five years. Previous independent research conducted by researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health has shown coffee drinkers live longer, with the greatest increase in life expectancy associated with drinking 6-7 cups of coffee per day.

Press Contact: For further information, contact [email protected] or Sinead Foley, +1 (202) 631 4577.

About the National Coffee Association The National Coffee Association of U.S.A., Inc. (NCA), established in 1911, is the leading trade organization for the coffee industry in the United States. The NCA is the only trade association that serves all segments of the U.S. coffee industry, including traditional and specialty companies. A majority of NCA membership, which accounts for over 90% of U.S. coffee commerce, comprises small and mid-sized companies and includes growers, roasters, retailers, importer/exporters, wholesaler/suppliers, and allied industry businesses. Please visit to learn more.

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What to Know About Coffee and Depression

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 29, 2021

In this Article

  • How Coffee Impacts Your Depression Symptoms
  • The Risks of Drinking Too Much Coffee
  • Lifestyle Changes That Help With Depression

Caffeine is a stimulant found in food and beverages like coffee. Drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee gives you a boost of energy that can lift you out of a bad mood. It’s one reason why we consume over 600 million cups of coffee in the U.S. each day.  

Research into coffee and depression has found that people tend to experience less severe symptoms when they drink coffee. 

Studies of the effects of coffee on the body have found other positive benefits, like lowering the risk of getting cancer or having a stroke. Drinking coffee can also reduce our risk of developing dementia and Parkinson’s disease. The protective compounds found in coffee beans, along with the effects of caffeine, can improve our mental cognitive abilities and lower the potential of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

How Coffee Impacts Your Depression Symptoms

Depression affects millions of people throughout the U.S. The severity of depression symptoms varies from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms of depression include having little interest in activities that used to bring you pleasure, difficulty concentrating, and a lack of energy. People diagnosed with clinical depression experience symptoms for at least two weeks. 

Researchers became curious about whether the stimulative properties found in coffee could relieve symptoms of depression. One published study showed a correlation between drinking more coffee and a reduction in the severity of depression symptoms. A separate study focused on middle-aged adults produced similar results.

It appears that drinking coffee can help people diagnosed with depression. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it should become a staple of your diet. While there are some health benefits to drinking coffee, there are also drawbacks to excess coffee consumption. 

The Risks of Drinking Too Much Coffee

Boosts of caffeine have become a staple among working adults and students looking for energy to push through with their jobs or studies. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers four regular-sized cups of coffee as generally safe. However, drinking coffee can produce side effects like restlessness, a rapid heartbeat, and insomnia.

Drinking more than four cups of coffee per day can increase these adverse effects. Some people report having symptoms like heightened anxiety, headaches, and agitation. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is used to assess and diagnose mental disorders, calls it “coffee intoxication”.  

Because caffeine is a drug, people can develop a dependency. Trying to quit cold-turkey on your coffee consumption can produce symptoms like fatigue, pounding headaches, and a lack of mental clarity. That may offset the benefits of drinking coffee to help with depression.

The caffeine in coffee can interact negatively with medications taken to treat health issues like a thyroid disorder. It can also interact negatively with drugs prescribed for mental health issues. If you have diabetes, excessive coffee consumption can increase your blood sugar levels and make it harder to manage your insulin. 

Postmenopausal women who drink more than three cups of coffee per day may start losing bone in their spine because of a lack of calcium. Others who should exhibit caution regarding drinking coffee, even to help with depression, include those with acid reflux or high cholesterol.

Lifestyle Changes That Help With Depression

Drinking coffee in moderation can provide some help with symptoms of depression. Try putting off your first cup of coffee until you’ve been awake for at least an hour. That gives your body time to produce more of a natural energy booster called cortisol. It’s better to put your coffee breaks off until you need them, like the middle of the morning or afternoon when your cortisol levels drop.

If you’re not a regular coffee drinker, try to reserve your coffee drinking for when your symptoms threaten to overwhelm you. Avoid drinking caffeine close to your bedtime so you’re able to get a good night’s sleep. 

Eliminating sweet beverages from your diet can help with depression. You can still incorporate coffee into your diet by not adding sugar. People who drink unsweetened coffee have been shown to feel less depressed than those who don’t drink coffee.

Another non-medical remedy you might want to try to help with depression is regular exercise. It helps elevate your mood and reduce the severity of your depression symptoms. You may find that you’re able to wean yourself off relying on coffee because of the serotonin and endorphin boost you get from increased physical activity. 

As always, your best bet is to speak with a doctor about your depression and talk with them about different treatment options. 

How coffee affects mood: physiology and conclusions

In general, everything is fine, but there are nuances ... Here you will find only scientific facts about how your favorite drink can be a help against autumn-winter blues and even depression.

Attention: this article can dramatically cheer you up!

Physiology of the process

To understand how coffee can affect a person's mood, it is necessary to understand the biochemistry of the process. Let's start with the fact that together with a morning cup of a fragrant drink, the main active substance, the alkaloid caffeine, enters our body.

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (the same scientist who studied conditioned reflexes on the example of dogs) was one of the first to study caffeine. Together with his colleagues, Pavlov found out that this substance in certain doses stimulates excitation processes in the cerebral cortex, positively affects the reaction rate and is a stimulus for fixing conditioned reflexes. Later, scientists discovered that caffeine has a similar molecular structure to adenosine, a substance responsible for stimulating sleep, suppressing alertness and feeling tired. Due to this similarity, caffeine can bind to adenosine receptors and have the exact opposite effect - to excite nerve cells and stimulate activity. Accustomed to getting "cheap" energy, a person begins to drink coffee more often and in large quantities, and adenosine has to "build" new receptors for himself. As soon as the effect of caffeine ends, adenosine still takes its toll: it occupies all available receptors (of which there are more), the process of excitation is replaced by the process of inhibition, and the body and brain get tired much more than it could be without caffeine.

But not everything is as bad as it seems. When used wisely, coffee really improves our mental state and has a positive effect on our overall mood.

Coffee and mood

Unlike emotions and feelings, mood is a fairly smooth mental process that takes place over a long period of time. It does not depend on momentary sensations and expresses the attitude to the life situation as a whole. The body is healthy, it doesn’t hurt anywhere, and did you get enough sleep? So the mood is good. Headache, winter morning and slush outside the window, and the child broke his favorite mug? Bad mood.

A cup of espresso is not in vain recommended as a remedy for a bad mood. Caffeine relieves spasms of cerebral vessels, relieving headaches of a different nature, and stimulates the restoration of dopamine D2 receptors (the very ones without which the action of dopamine, the hormone responsible for joy and satisfaction, is impossible). Physiologically, coffee triggers processes that improve alertness, productivity, and mood.

The minus of coffee is that in case of an overdose, which is more than 4 cups a day, the mood can change to the exact opposite. Adenosine still gets to the receptors, and instead of a positive attitude, irritability, anxiety and a feeling of overwork appear.

Coffee and depression

There are many studies on the effect of caffeine on the likelihood of depression. In 2018, Korean physiologists and doctors from Kyunghee University (Seoul) published the results of a study on how caffeine in coffee and green tea can be used in the prevention of depression.

Scientists have deduced a pattern: active coffee consumption (more than 2 cups a day) reduces the risk of depression by 32% by increasing the production of dopamine.

Everything seems to be clear: drinking coffee is good for you. But back to physiology. Caffeine increases the production of stress hormones - cortisol and norepinephrine and blocks the adenosine system. From sudden jumps, the nervous system is gradually depleted, anxiety and fatigue accumulate. Therefore, drinking more than 3-4 cups of your favorite Americano per day, on the contrary, increases the risk of falling into a depressive state.

Conclusion: everything is good in moderation! There is no ideal amount of caffeine for each person, but scientists advise not to abuse it. 2-3 cups of good coffee a day is enough to provide yourself with a great mood, concentration and vigor.

How much coffee do you drink?

"Depressive" foods: coffee, meat, chocolate

January 11, 2012 16:23

Our mood is influenced by many factors, not least the foods we eat. Doctors from the USA have compiled a list of foods that can lead to depression. Oddly enough, not semi-finished products of unknown origin, but completely natural food can spoil the mood.

We know that our mood is influenced by many factors, not least the foods we eat. American doctors have compiled a list of foods that can lead to depression. Oddly enough, the mood can be worsened not by semi-finished products of unknown origin or “chemical” soda, but by completely natural food, the Shine portal writes.

There are many ways to deal with depression, but American experts advise those who are overcome by gloomy thoughts, first of all, start eating right. In the first place among the "depressive" products is coffee. Yes, this drink invigorates, gives strength and, as a result, improves mood. Many people say they can't wake up without it, and people who work at night need coffee like a car needs gasoline.

The problem is that some people like coffee's invigorating effect so much that they can't stop drinking it later. Often, when the feeling of delight from the first cup of drink drunk in the morning passes, a person is suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of fatigue, he becomes nervous and irritable. And a repeated portion of the "drug" does not always solve the problem. Such mood swings are extremely unhealthy for the nervous system, so try to gradually reduce the amount of coffee you drink per day.

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