Feeling down? Going through mood swings? Having one of those days?
What if I told you that you can turn your day around as easy as getting a caffeine fix?
I'm not pulling this out of a hat. Science suggests that caffeine is not just a stimulant that keeps you alert, it can also improve your mood and help you become a walking ball of sunshine. This may seem like a tall order for caffeine... but wait ‘til you order a tall cup of coffee and experience it yourself!
Based on a review conducted by A. Nehlig, having 75mg of caffeine (a cup of coffee) every 4 hours can lead to a “pattern of sustained improvement of mood over the day.” It can increase alertness and well-being, help concentration, improve mood and limit depression. 
Keep reading to find out more!
To understand what exactly happens, you need to know this chemical called adenosine.
Your body breaks down a high-energy molecule called ATP, which is needed for its constant supply of energy. As it performs this function, it liberates adenosine, a sleep-inducing molecule in your body that causes sleepiness. When adenosine binds to adenosine receptors in the brain, it slows down nerve cell activity, making you drowsy.
Here comes caffeine, which looks like adenosine. As an “adenosine receptor antagonist,” caffeine is recognized by the nerve cells and receptors as adenosine. When caffeine binds to the receptors, it blocks adenosine and inhibits the latter’s effects on your body. 
So instead of slowing down nerve cell activity, caffeine does the complete opposite – it stimulates you!
Here’s a TED video that explains it:
According to the video, adenosine receptors are linked to dopamine receptors. Dopamine are chemicals in the body that trigger feelings of reward and pleasure. When adenosine docks in the receptors paired with dopamine receptors, it makes it harder for dopamine to fit and bind. As a result, the pleasure feeling gets inhibited.
But when caffeine occupies the adenosine receptors, it creates the opposite effect. Dopamine can fit the receptors this time, and the feeling of pleasure goes in full gear. 
As a result, you become more alert, less bored, and generally in a great mood!
However, the mood-enhancing effects of caffeine and how you achieve them depend on the following factors:
Now that you know how caffeine interacts with your body, it’s time to learn how it can be your much-needed happy pill. Here are the different ways it can boost your mood and overall well-being:
Caffeine keeps you alert and attentive.
We know that caffeine is a psychoactive drug that serves as an effective stimulant. The most widely embraced effect of caffeine? Alertness and heightened attention.
Studies support this claim:
Caffeine can help ease and reduce the risk of depression. 
We previously covered the relationship between depression and caffeine at length. But there are also several studies and research pointing to the positive effects of caffeine on depression:
Caffeine can turn you into a ray of sunshine.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, you can become happy and positive by just drinking coffee. Substances in caffeine can tap into the reward systems of the brain, thus mimicking the effects of a mild antidepressant. It’s important to remember, however, that coffee shouldn’t be used to cure depression and taken as a replacement for antidepressants. 
Caffeine helps you get along with other people better.
We just need to follow the logic here. Being tired can often result in lapses in judgment. But having caffeine as a stimulant can lead to ethical decisions and motivate workers to stick to their guns and keep to the choices they make. 
Another study shows that coffee helps people appreciate their colleagues more. An experiment compared participants with caffeine in their system and those that were given decaf drinks. The former group turned out to think of their co-workers more positively compared to the latter subset. 
Having a cup of coffee definitely brings a lot of benefits especially for your mood. But as with everything in life, make sure you drink it in moderation. Overdoing it may result in the following:
If in doubt, you can always just stick to a cuppa each day, or have a pop of a caffeine mint as your instant pick-me-upper.
If you want to learn more about how caffeine affects not just your mood but your brain in general, watch this video:
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Is there a big difference between synthetic and natural caffeine? Which gives a stronger jolt? Does it even matter?
Natural caffeine in coffee, tea, and chocolate is much less common than the synthetic caffeine found in so many other products.
Caffeine is found in plant species such as the more popular ones like Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta, as well as tea leaves, kola nuts, cacao beans, Yerba mate and guarana berries.
Not only does naturally-occurring caffeine from said plants keep your cognitive functions at their peak, but it also contains antioxidants that help you fight illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Caffeine is NOT addictive, but it sure is habit-forming. You don’t hear about coffee addicts robbing stores and hijacking motorists to get money for a fix. That’s because while caffeine does cause dependence, it isn’t in the same category as opiates or alcohol.