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Does caffeine help or hurt depression?

by Mark Miller 5 min read

How to avoid depression

Note: If you are experiencing (or think you are experiencing) depression then please speak with a qualified medical health professional immediately. This article is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice.

While caffeine has many beneficial effects, including on lifting mood, a major study found that people who consume caffeine regularly have less chance of having depression.

Other studies also have shown that people who consume caffeine or coffee may actually get depression less. More on that later.

That said, be careful you don't take caffeine so late that it prevents you from falling asleep. Sleep deprivation can have a big impact on mental health and can worsen depression. Sleep deprivation can also cause physical health problems, which can exacerbate depression.

Mayo Clinic says [1]:

  • Caffeine can cause sleep problems that affect mood. Caffeine can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Lack of sleep can worsen depression. If you have trouble sleeping, don't drink caffeinated beverages late in the day. Some people need to limit caffeine to the morning or quit drinking caffeinated beverages completely to avoid sleep problems. Also, anxiety and depression often occur together, and caffeine can worsen anxiety. 
  • Stopping abruptly can worsen depression. If you regularly drink caffeinated beverages, quitting can cause a depressed mood until your body adjusts. It can also cause other signs and symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue and irritability.
  • Mayo suggests experimenting: If you are depressed, try eliminating coffee slowly and gradually. If your condition improves and your mood improves, don't consume caffeine anymore. If there is no improvement after eliminating caffeine, apparently it's not the caffeine causing your problems.

    14.8 million Americans have depression

    Caffeine is an important consideration given how many U.S. residents suffer from depression. And about 90 percent of those take caffeine, if the demographics on caffeine hold true for depressed people.

    There are several symptoms to look for in depression, according to Healthline [2]

     --Feelings of hopelessness: If you're saying to yourself "What's the point?" and "It's all my fault" a lot, you may have a symptom. If you feel worthless, hate yourself or have too many feelings of guilt, that is not normal.

    -- You lose interest.The things you love to do, hobbies, sports, just watching TV, are no longer worthwhile. You may not want to go out with friends anymore.

    --Problems with fatigue or sleep. You might feel overly. Part of that might have to do with lack of sleep. Both contribute to depression.

    --Feelings of anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety include nervousness, tension, feelings of panic or dread, sweating, increased heart rate or breathing, twitching, trouble focusing.

    --Irritability in men. This feeling may result in risky behavior, substance abuse, or misplaced anger.

    --Appetite and weight fluctuations. This could go either way: eating too much and gaining weight, not eating enough and losing weight.

    --Emotional outbursts and mood swings.

    --Feeling suicidal.

    If you have these symptoms, it can't hurt to reach out to a mental health professional for counseling. In the United States, if you think you want to kill yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

    The good news about caffeine

  • Regular coffee consumption may actually help prevent feelings of depression, according to another article in Healthline [3]

    In an analysis on observational studies on the relationship between caffeine and depression, caffeine consumption was found to decrease the risk for depression. Another study found a connection between decreased depression and coffee consumption, but no connection when other caffeinated drinks were consumed.

  • However, the same article cautions:

    When looking at caffeine consumption in children and teenagers, it was found to increase risk for depression among 5th and 10th graders. Caffeine has a negative impact on sleep, which could affect a person’s mood.

    Healthline concludes that more research is needed in this area:

    Caffeine may help relieve symptoms of depression, but it may also make symptoms worse. More research is needed to determine the impact of caffeine on depression and other mood disorders.

    A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine calls for more research [4]. The study tracked 121,700 female nurses age 30 to 55. The researchers took detailed data on coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption over 22 years. The study said:

    In this large longitudinal study we found that depression risk decreases with increasing caffeinated coffee consumption. Further investigations are needed to confirm this finding and to determine whether usual caffeinated coffee consumption may contribute to depression prevention.

    Compared with women with least frequent consumption of coffee, regular coffee drinkers were more likely to be current smokers and to consume more alcohol, less likely to be involved in social/community groups, and reported lower prevalence of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

    The study says caffeine is known to enhance "psychomotor performance, increased vigilance, elevated arousal (lesser somnolence and greater activation), and increased sensations of well-being and energy." So maybe it's little surprise that fewer people who take caffeine regularly are depressed than those who don't.

    The scientific article concludes by saying:

    In conclusion, our results support a possible protective effect of caffeine, mainly from coffee consumption, on risk of depression. These findings are consistent with earlier observations that suicide risk is lower among persons with higher consumption of coffee. Further investigations are needed to confirm this finding and to determine whether usual caffeinated coffee consumption may contribute to prevention or treatment of depression.

    More good news about caffeine

    You might not want to fill up on coffee, tea, or energy drinks because of so many bathroom breaks. Try some Viter Energy Mints [5] instead.

    The mints have 40 mg of caffeine, are sugar-free and freshen the breath, plus they contain invigorating B vitamins.

    Buy Viter Energy Mints at the link above or on our Amazon.com page [6].

    Which brings us to all the other ways that caffeine benefits people. Our Viter Energy Mints blog did a posting titledEvidence piles up that caffeine is good for us[7].

    According to various experts, caffeine:

    • Reduces risk of heart disease, cancer and multiple sclerosis
    • Boosts semen production
    • Invigorates
    • Enhances memory
    • Alleviates fatigue
    • Relieves sleep deprivation
    • Reduces the risk of kidney stones
    • Helps alleviate migraine headaches
    • Enhances the effect of over-the-counter painkillers
    • Prevents erectile dysfunction
    • Reduces suicide risk
    • Prevents tinnitus
    • Reduces the risk of dementia
    • Reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease


    The upshot seems to be that you should avoid caffeinated products if they are keeping you awake. But in addition to all the health benefits of coffee and caffeine, there is also a lower incidence of depression among those who take it regularly.


    [1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/caffeine-and-depression/faq-20057870

    [2] https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/recognizing-symptoms

    [3] https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/caffeine-and-depression#caffeine-and-depression

    [4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3296361/

    [5] https://www.goviter.com/collections/viter-energy-mints

    [6] https://amzn.to/3jb7Gwg

    [7] https://www.goviter.com/blogs/viter-energy-blog/evidence-shows-coffee-healthy-for-you

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