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More coffee might keep women free from depression

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Could coffee be an antidepressant for women? Women, who are more prone to depression than men, might find some relief by increasing their daily intake of coffee. In a new finding, researchers say caffeinated coffee just might act as an antidepressant.

In their study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers looked at women who drink one or less cups of coffee a week to those who consume 2 to 3 cups a day, finding a 15 percent lower chance of depression among women who drink more caffeinated coffee.

More cofffee with caffeine lowered depression 20 percent

But the same finding wasn’t true for women who drink decaf coffee. Women who had more than 4 cups of caffeine containing coffee had a 20 percent lower incidence of depression.

The research took place between 1996 and 2006. During that time, 2,607 women were found to have new onset of depression.

According to information from the article, coffee is the most popular beverage that stimulates the central nervous stimulant, accounting for 80 percent of caffeinated beverage consumption.

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The women were followed May 1980 through April 2000 for caffeine consumption via questionnaires. The researchers measured how often the women drank coffee, with our without caffeine, nonherbal tea, sugary, low calorie or caffeine containing soft-drinks or other carbonated beverages and chocolate.

Depression was identified through self-reporting and included use of anti-depressant medicine in the previous 2 years.

The researchers, Michel Lucas, Ph.D., R.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston and colleagues, say the study “Cannot prove that caffeine or caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of depression but only suggests the possibility of such a protective effect.” More studies are needed before coffee is recommended as an antidepressant.

Other recent findings about the health perks of coffee, suggest lower chance of prostate cancer for men who drink either caffeinated or decaf coffee in a study that also came from HSPH scientists.

One in five women will experience depression in their lifetime, making it “identification of risk factors for depression among women and the development of new preventive strategies…a public health priority,” write the authors.

A new finding, published by Harvard researchers July, 2013, now find a link between coffee drinking and lower rates of suicide.

The new study suggests caffeinated coffee may have an antidepressant effect– the findings linked more coffee to lower rates of depression in women that was dose dependent. It's important to note coffee should be consumed in moderation - too much caffeine can cause insomnia, negating any potential health benefits. The researchers would like to see more studies.

Article updated 7/27/13.