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Coffee reduces risk of depression in older women: Study

September 16, 2019

While several antidepressants contain stimulants, Harold Koenig, professor of social psychology at Tulane University School of Medicine, said he is ???concerned??? if people read about the study and decide to use coffee as self-medication. Antidepressants likely have different chemical compositions than coffee, and would likely have a different effect on the brain. ???No doubt, caffeine can temporarily increase mood and energy, but the problem is that the effect does not last, and the dose has to be continually increased to maintain the same effect??ŚMany people experience a caffeine withdrawal when they cut down on their caffeine intake, and this can cause dysphoria and fatigue. Think about how you feel after you drink a high-caffeinated drink and think about how you feel after about two to three hours. Common sense says that the caffeine effect doesn't last, and that people have to pay for whatever improved mood they experience in terms of withdrawal,??? he explained.

Previous research, including a study published last year that was conducted among men in Finland, has linked caffeine consumption to a lower risk of depression and suicide. ???A couple of past studies found similar results,??? said Daniel Evatt, a psychiatry research fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in Baltimore, who was not involved in the new research. ???This study validates the association.???

Evatt, who studies the psychological effects of caffeine, is ???not terribly convinced??? that caffeine can prevent depression. ???There's a very strong indication that there is a real relationship there, but that doesn't mean that coffee will stop depression,??? he said. ???We need to come up with a hypothesis for the mechanism at work, and then try to see what's really happening.??? For his part, Evatt stresses that caffeine can have negative consequences for many people, whether they're experiencing depression symptoms or not. ???We shouldn't put caffeine in too positive a light,??? he said. ???Some people have a relationship with caffeine that's similar to an addictive drug. I don't want to pin it as a public health problem, but people can become dependent on coffee and have troubling withdrawal symptoms.???

???There's no need to start drinking coffee,??? said Ascherio. ???The message is that coffee is safe to drink, with no adverse effects. That's really all that can be said.???

Emma Robertson-Blackmore, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, calls the findings ???interesting,??? but urged caution regarding the link. ???Women should aim for a healthy balance in diet, stress reduction and exercise and be mindful of depression symptoms that require help from health professionals,??? she advised.