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Drink More Coffee, Ladies! It May Keep Depression Away

Four to six cups a day could keep the SSRIs away.

Coffee doesn’t just make mornings more tolerable to mom, it might make her entire life rosier. According to a new study, women who drink coffee regularly show a 20% reduction in diagnosed cases of depression.

Finally, a health study that we can all get behind and drink to. Barrista, where’s my pumpkin spice latté?

The study, featured in The New York Times, analyzed the data from nearly 51,000 women and confirmed the link between depression and caffeine. An earlier study on 2200 middle-aged Finnish men had found a similar link, but could not be considered definitive because of the small sample size. The women who took part in this study were part of the Nurse’s Health Study, providing “detailed information every two years [for a ten year period], on their caffeine intake, depression risk factors and overall health, including weight, their use of hormones and their levels of exercise and smoking.”

While the author of the study, Dr. Albert Ascherio, pointed out that “a very high level of caffeine can increase anxiety” and insomnia, the women who drank between four and six cups of coffee a day were found to have about a 20 percent drop in diagnoses of depression. The more coffee consumed, up to six cups a day, the less likely they were to become depressed. Other sources of caffeine, such as soda or tea, were not found to have any significant effect on the women’s mental health.

Even though scientists know that caffeine can affect mood by triggering the brain to release dopamine and serotonin (the former increasing your heart rate and blood pressure, the latter increasing your sense of well-being), it is not understood how the short-term benefits of this phenomenon could create a long-term effect like staving off depression.

Like most studies, it comes with a cautionary note that more research is needed and warns people to use good judgment in their coffee consumption, citing earlier research that showed the risk of suicide to go down with every cup of coffee, up to seven a day, but then increasing the risk after eight or more cups.

Photo Credit: Amy Windsor

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