Many people rely on coffee to keep them awake and energized throughout the day, but new research shows that it may also help lift your spirits and improve feelings of melancholy.
In a peer-reviewed journal study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that just three to four cups of caffeinated coffee a day can reduce the symptoms of depression in women in a dose dependent manner.
The authors of the study noted that 80 percent of worldwide caffeine consumption is in the form of coffee, the most commonly used central nervous system stimulant. The research leader, Dr. Michel Lucas and his team set out to determine if the consumption of coffee or other drinks containing caffeine might be linked to depression risk. To conduct this study, they gathered data on 50,737 women with an average age of 63. It was determined that none of them had depression when the study began.
The participants were part of the Nurses’ Health Study and were asked to complete a detailed questionnaire detailing their caffeine and coffee consumption over a 24-year period. The researchers determined how often they consumed caffeinated and non-caffeinated coffee, non-herbal teas, caffeinated sodas (sugared or low calorie) and all types of caffeine-free soft drinks, as well as chocolate intake. For the purpose of this study, depression was defined as having a diagnosis of clinical depression and being prescribed regular antidepressants during the previous two years.
Coffee Can Lower Depression Symptom by 20 Percent
During the course of the study analysis, 2,607 new cases of depression were recorded among the participants. From the data collected, researchers found that women who consumed two to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day were 15 percent less likely to develop depression compared to those who drank a maximum of one cup of caffeinated coffee per week.
Furthermore, they determined women who drank at least four cups of coffee per day had a 20 percent lower risk than the females consuming only one cup per day.
Interestingly, the consumption of decaffeinated coffee had no impact on depression risk, an indicator that a synergistic link exists between chemical compounds in coffee and caffeine to produce the risk-lowering effect.
Study authors concluded, “In this large prospective cohort of older women free of clinical depression or severe depressive symptoms at baseline, risk of depression decreased in a dose-dependent manner with increasing consumption of caffeinated coffee.”
This is great news for java junkies, as drinking two to four cups daily of a caffeinated coffee beverage may provide significant depression-lowering benefits.
 Lucas M et al. Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Depression Among Women. Arch Intern Med. 2011;171:17, 1571-1578.