As a woman and a coffee drinker, I can attest to the fact that drinking coffee consistently elevates my mood on a daily basis. The day doesn't even officially begin until I've had my first cup of French-pressed joe.
So when I first read about the results of the study that linked caffeine to decreased depression in women, my immediate thought was, 'Duh.'
"Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Depression" was published in the latest issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine. It's not the first study that has been conducted on the effectiveness of coffee on health: Reports have been published in the past on linkages between coffee and decreased suicide attempts, reduced risk of Parkinson's disease and delayed dementia. Coffee has been known to positively affect cognitive performance, to reduce liver problems, and to provide antioxidants helpful in fighting cancer.
But it is the first large-scale study that deals specifically with the effect of the elixir on women's mental health.
Researchers followed more than 50,000 women over a decade (1996-2006), checking in every two years to gather data about coffee consumption, depression risk factors and overall health.
As it turns out, the more coffee imbibed, the happier the woman.
According to the New York Times blog post,
During the decade that the women were followed, 2,607 cases of clinical depression were diagnosed. Over all, women who regularly drank coffee had a lower risk of depression — about 20 percent — than the women who abstained, and the risk was dose-dependent. In other words, the likelihood of depression fell with each additional cup of coffee, in this case up to as many as six cups a day."
But be careful not to overdo it. Over consumption will likely result in increased anxiety, and may reverse any positive effects of coffee-drinking (an earlier study showed that suicide increased after eight cups).
Researchers still aren't sure what exactly it is about coffee that reduces depression in the long run.
“We know that caffeine enters the brain and activates the release of different neurotransmitters that are related to mood, like dopamine and serotonin,” said Dr. Albert Ascherio, one of the authors of the study. “That may explain the shorter-term effects on mood. But the long-term mechanisms of caffeine intake on mood we don’t really know.”