Coffee may prevent depression, scientists say

 
Coffee Coffee must contain caffeine to have the effect, say the researchers

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Women who drink two or more cups of coffee a day are less likely to get depressed, research suggests.

It is not clear why it might have this effect, but the authors believe caffeine in coffee may alter the brain's chemistry. Decaffeinated coffee did not have the same effect.

The findings, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, come from a study of more than 50,000 US female nurses.

The experts are now recommending more work to better understand the link.

And they say it is certainly too soon to start recommending that women should drink more coffee to boost mood.

Caffeine lift

The Harvard Medical School team tracked the health of the women over a decade from 1996 to 2006 and relied on questionnaires to record their coffee consumption.

Start Quote

This fits nicely with a lot of the previous work and what we know about caffeine and the brain”

End Quote Prof Bertil Fredholm Karolinska Institute

Just over 2,600 of the women developed depression over this time period.

More of these women tended to be non- or low-coffee drinkers rather than frequent coffee consumers.

Compared with women who drank one cup of caffeinated coffee or less per week, those who consumed two to three cups per day had a 15% decreased risk of developing depression.

Those who drank four or more cups a day cut their risk by 20%.

Regular coffee drinkers were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol and were less likely to be involved in church, volunteer or community groups. They were also less likely to be overweight and have high blood pressure or diabetes.

Even after controlling for all of these variables, the trend of increasing coffee consumption and lower depression remained.

Mounting evidence

The researchers say their findings add weight to the work of others which found lower suicide rates among coffee drinkers.

They suspect caffeine is the key player - it is known to enhance feelings of wellbeing and energy.

How much caffeine?

  • There is no recommended level a person should consume
  • But pregnant women are advised to consume less than 200mg a day
  • One mug of instant coffee: 100mg
  • One mug of filter coffee: 140mg
  • One mug of tea: 75mg
  • One can of cola: 40mg
  • One 50g bar of milk chocolate: about 25mg

Source: NHS Choices

And it has a physical effect on brain function and transmission by altering chemical pathways, like those involving adenosine. But more research is needed to show if this might mean it is useful for warding off depression.

Alternatively, it might be that people with low moods chose not to drink coffee because it contained caffeine, point out the researchers. One of the common symptoms of depression is disturbed sleep, and caffeine can exacerbate this because it is a stimulant.

Too much caffeine can also increase feelings of anxiety.

Prof Bertil Fredholm, an expert in pharmacology and physiology at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, said the findings were reassuring for coffee-lovers.

"This fits nicely with a lot of the previous work and what we know about caffeine and the brain. It blocks adenosine, which produces a similar effect to increasing dopamine production. And it's becoming increasingly clear that the dopamine-rich areas of the brain are much more important in depression than previously thought.

"Despite valiant efforts to show how dangerous coffee is for us, it is not proving so.

"This removes yet another anxiety regarding caffeine use. Drunk in moderation, the evidence is strong that it is not one of the things we do that is going to damage your health."

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 162.

    @136 'Chazz Trinder' - makes a good point about this female only study of coffee drinkers. Social drinking of coffee or tea is a normalised event, developed over centuries.

    However, what is disturbing, but unsurprising, are some comments who think that depression is not a real illness. Being 'fed up' all the time is certainly NOT depression - but may be an early indicator to examine your life?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 161.

    Yes there are real "Bad Science" questions in this. Did the researchers control for other things that commonly go with coffee drinking? One that seems intuitively important is socialising. Coffee and chat often go together. So it cold be the chat that is helping. But these days we often look for the chemical reasons for personal problems, ignoring the social/straight psychological....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 160.

    @144 'gpsaint'. So what you are suggesting is: a few cups of coffee throughout the working day may be beneficial. Well done.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 159.

    @147.Indi
    I do not know how true this story is. Because I know at least 02 people who drink about 5 or 6 cups a day & going through depression.

    They had a sample of 50739 for their study, you have a sample of 2 for yours but you think your statistical study is more revealing than theirs.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 158.

    Coffee, tea, dark chocolate contain stimulants and various anti-oxidants as they are plant-based. The only mistake the world made was adding sugar over centuries that dulled true taste at the beginning as plantations were combined? We can't change the past.

    Email Starbucks or other huge major providers to declare their sources?

    In UK we spend more on takeaway coffee than British produce.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 157.

    OF COURSE! Caffeine is a stimulant, which produces a mild euphoria, which counteracts depression, i.e. it acts similarly to amphetamines, albeit while being more safe and gentle than those other drugs. But it's not harmless, any more than amphetamines: I have a sensitivity to caffeine, which causes severe digestive and intestinal tract distress, and cannot, unfortunately, drink coffee.

  • Comment number 156.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 155.

    I never drank coffee; and I've never had a bout of depression. On the other hand...I've drunk buckets of tea over my lifespan.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 154.

    @130freegreenlondon
    Surely we need more information about the sample group
    Not really other than the sample size was 50739 & they were women
    This was a longtitudinal study, they observe a single variable in a large sample over a long period of time.
    The result it produces is a trend (or no trend) Where a trend is found one normally goes off and does other types of research to investigate further

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 153.

    @friendly Sassy-Lady

    want to join up for a coffee? :-)

  • Comment number 152.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 151.

    Wwhat about we merry men? Are we not wired to get the uppy jolt?
    Works for me ~ though I don't have the plumbing of the studyites.
    If it makes some feel better then lay off on the attack peeps.The severly melancholy will remain that way no matter what. It goes back to the glass half-full.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 150.

    146.Becca
    "I find this article may not be on the right track. Considering that I've been drinking coffee for years, yet I've had depression for years. Just in the last 10 years, I've discovered I have high blood pressure, am over weight and have diabetes."

    Possibly your depression, high blood pressure and diabetes is linked to you being over weight?

  • Comment number 149.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 148.

    Naturally, ALL research must be exposed too, examined/critiqued by current peer groups.

    As for this coffee research, it was female only, over a time line of 15yrs?

    20yrs ago, science concluded optimum health benefits from coffee intake - not gender specific, was max 3 medium cups a day in the UK.

    However, in UK today, coffee choices are varied. So, on balance, watch your coffee wallet/purse?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 147.

    I do not know how true this story is. Because I know at least 02 people who drink about 5 or 6 cups a day & going through depression.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 146.

    I find this article may not be on the right track. Considering that I've been drinking coffee for years, yet I've had depression for years. Just in the last 10 years, I've discovered I have high blood pressure, am over weight and have diabetes.
    Just wanted to throw in my 2cents.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 145.

    What I am curious to know is what about other caffeine based products or those that affect the brain in a similar manner to caffeine, so maybe would we see a similar effect if the subject took caffeine pills rather than coffee, or what about peanuts which when broken down in the body produce similar byproducts to caffeine

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 144.

    Plants manufacture chemicals in order to manipulate the behaviours of animals that they interact with,though unintended for homo sapiens,we are affected.Constituents in coffee like caffeine,effect the CNS.Blockade of adenosinal receptors on cell surfaces has an anti-depressant effect.This blockade may be interfering,in part,with the psychalgia of depression.A cup of prophylaxis does little harm.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 143.

    Coffee makes me Depressed !!! every time I get the bill from any upmarket cafe.

 

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