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Coffee Decreases Risk of Depression in Women

September 29th, 2011  |  The Blog

Coffee, a well known kick start for the day, has been a recent subject in many studies about health, particularly regarding its positive effects. A new study by Harvard School of Public Health has found that the early morning antidote to being awake has definite effects on depression in women. Drinking four cups a day is enough to have the effect of a 20 percent reduction in risk of depression.

USA Today reports:

  • Women who drank four cups of coffee or more a day had a 20 percent reduced risk for depression and those imbibing two to three cups daily had a 15 percent decreased risk, compared to those drinking one cup or less daily.
  • Decaffeinated versions of the drink didn’t seem to be linked at all with depression.
  • A relationship between caffeinated coffee and depression does make a certain amount of biological sense, experts say.
  • “Caffeine is known to affect the release of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, that had been implicated in regulating mood and depression,” said Ascherio, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School

The association of caffeine with improved dopamine and serotonin levels is an interesting development. It follows prior research identifying a range of benefits from coffee, but previously, no definite or measurable medical facts were found. The applications of this study in practical medicine may be very valuable as patients suffering from depression in the course of long illnesses, particularly during “very down” pre and post operative times. The study included a statistical base of 51,000 women averaging at 63 years age of 63. None were currently suffering from depression or on related medication.

The idea at the moment is a “follow the logic” approach — if caffeine can reduce the risk of depression over a period of years, then a similar, stronger compound may be able to enhance the effects. This idea is very different from current treatment methods, which rely on medication to stabilize and slowly cure various physiological chemistry imbalances involved in depression. The dopamine findings may have applications in anti-schizophrenic medication as well.

If this study can deliver a working methodology for managing depression, it could make a huge difference to the current nature of treatment. The main objective of future research is to positively identify a cause and effect relationship between coffee and depression.

Paul Wallis
About Paul Wallis

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