Coffee can sometimes get a bit of a bad wrap in health circles, and whether or not it’s healthy can be a confusing topic. While it may not be overly helpful for me to tell you that it really depends on the individual – there are situations in which coffee consumption can be detrimental to ones health and others where it can cause no issues what so ever. And there are situations where coffee can be beneficial and even medicinal! One such situation may be the case of depression.
There are numerous studies demonstrating that moderate coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of developing depression (1, 2); and that low to moderate consumption may improve symptoms in those diagnosed with depression (3). Positive associations between coffee and depression are seen when consumption of caffeine is above 68mg per day but below 509mg per day 2 (one small coffee/single shot contains around 90mg of caffeine).
Is coffee a plant based anti-depressant? Perhaps!
Coffee contains caffeine, chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid and caffeic acid. These constituents have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce the inflammation within the brain that is associated with the development of depression (4). Caffeine also directly affects neurotransmitter function, as it is an adenosine receptor antagonist (meaning that it influences levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine).
It is important to note that coffee does not seem to bode well with other mood disorders including anxiety, panic disorder, and (interestingly) postpartum depression (3). Given that depression and anxiety commonly occur together my advice would be to be wary of caffeine intake in this instance, and avoid it all together if you have anxiety, tend toward anxiety or are significantly stressed.
Bottom line – listen to your body. If you have been diagnosed with depression and one or two (max) coffees a day feels ok for you then great! If not, try giving it the flick for a while and see how you go. And to be honest, this advice goes for anyone questioning whether or not coffee is for them.
What are your thoughts on coffee? How does it make you feel?
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this topic further please get in touch, I’d love to work with you.
- Lucas, M., Mirzaei, F., Pan, A., Okereke, O. I., Willett, W. C., O’Reilly, E. J., Koenen, K. & Ascherio, A. (2011). Coffee, caffeine, and risk of depression among women. Archives of Internal Medicine, 171(17), 1571-1578.
- Wang, L., Shen, X., Wu, Y. & Zhang, D. (2016). Coffee and caffeine consumption and depression: a meta-analysis of observational studies. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 50(3), 228-242.
- Rusconi, A. C., Valeriani, G., Carluccio, G. M., Majorana, M., Carlone, C., Raimondo, P., Ripá, S., Marino, P., Coccanari de Fornari, M. A. & Biondi, M. (2014). Coffee consumption in depressive disorders: it’s not one size fits all. Journal of Psychiatry, 49(4),
- Hall, S., Desbrow, B., Anoopkumar-Dukie, S., Davey, A. K., Arora, D., McDermott, C., Schubert, M. M., Perkins, A. V., Kiefel, M. J. & Grant, G. D. (2015). A review of the bioactivity of coffee, caffeine and key coffee constituents on inflammatory responses linked to depression. Food Research International, 76(3), 626-636.