Does Coffee Give You Depression? (In-depth Answer)

Coffee may reduce depressive symptoms.

Coffee is widely loved due to its appetizing flavor and rich taste. Along with amazing texture, the drink has got some wonderful health benefits including better endurance and anti-inflammatory properties.

Since the stimulant, caffeine is present in the drink, many times the consumption may trigger unwanted symptoms. The extent of the side effects of coffee will vary among habitual and non-habitual drinkers.

Anxiety is one of the widely experienced caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Have you ever wondered whether the drink also induces depressive symptoms or not?

Short answer: Coffee itself doesn’t cause depression. Too much caffeine in your coffee may exert side effects so excessive coffee consumption may trigger the onset of depressive symptoms such as compulsive behavior, stress, and anxiety.

The following sections may help you with a better understanding of the topic.

Let’s get started!

Does Coffee Contain A Stimulant?

Coffee contains the natural stimulant caffeine. It’s a central nervous system stimulant (CNS stimulant) that helps in keeping you awake and alert.

Caffeine helps you in improving mood and brain function. It also enhances your metabolism and promotes weight loss. Another beneficial attribute of caffeine is that it may protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

However, apart from the boosting effects, caffeine provides no essential nutritional value on its own. The nutritional breakdown of coffee shows that the other essential chemical composition of coffee is mainly, chlorogenic acids, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, manganese, potassium, magnesium, and niacin.

It’s safe for adults to consume 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. This large dose of caffeine comes with some concerning side effects as well. That’s why it’s better to manage the consumption according to your tolerance.

Is Coffee Good For Mental Health?

A bunch of blocks spelling out the words 'mental health matters' on the ground

Coffee can be good for your mental health and as per reviews, the greatest benefit comes when you drink at least 2 cups per day. This quantity of coffee works fine for people with normal sensitivity to caffeine. Generally, a single cup of brewed coffee contains 95 mg caffeine.

According to a Korean National Health and Nutrition Survey, coffee tends to lower the incidents of self-reported depression by consumers by about 32%. Other studies also showed that people drinking coffee on regular basis is less likely to diagnose clinically significant depression.

The potential effects that the beverage has on your health are mainly:

  • Reduces Oxidation
  • Blocks mood-depressing chemicals in the brain
  • Fights inflammation
  • Improves gut health

Caffeine works in blocking the receptors in the brain to bind with adenosine. Adenosine is the chemical that causes the sensation of fatigue and pressed mood.

The concentration of adenosine increases in the blood of the people drinking more coffee since it has been blocked by caffeine.

Coffee also helps in dealing with high blood levels of inflammation which is prevalent among depressed individuals. Studies have also shown that coffee’s anti-inflammatory properties help people with depression.

Is Coffee an Antidepressant?

Researchers reveal that the caffeine in coffee acts as a mild antidepressant. Consumers have reported that they have self-medicate depression with caffeine.

Caffeine may work simply well for people with mild depressions. Consumption beyond this quantity will trigger unwanted side effects without lifting the boost.

As caffeine is a CNS stimulant, it elevates serotonin and dopamine by working as an antidepressant. The mood-boosting effect will depend on the person’s overall health and mental condition.

Moderate intake of coffee may help you with depressive symptoms.

This study titled Relationship between daily coffee intake and suicidal ideation showed that there has been a reduced risk of suicidal ideation among women who used to drink 1 to 4 cups of coffee daily. Another review showed that caffeine works as a protective guard against depression for certain people.

Considering the side effects, you need to be alert of your intake if you have other issues related to insomnia, heartburn, palpitations, or restlessness. The mild antidepressant effect of the caffeine might be outset by other adverse symptoms if you’re ingesting too much of the stimulant.

Can Drinking Coffee Reduce the Risk of Depression?

a person sitting sadly in front of a coffee cup

Coffee can reduce the risk of depression to some extent. The prebiotics in coffee help in enhancing the creation of fatty acids and neurotransmitters. This helps in conferring better mental help especially in the case of depressed people.

Studies have also suggested that there exists a correlation between coffee consumption and reduced depressive symptoms.

Coffee also improves gut health. The gut microbiota influences the occurrence of depression. Most of these studies and reviews are conducted on adults individuals.

On the contrary, children or teenagers may suffer from depressive symptoms if they take too much coffee. This may stem from the fact that their cardiovascular and neurological function is still developing. Lack of sleep and too much boost may impair their normal growth and metabolism.

Even if coffee is good for your depression, don’t make it your staple diet. Drink coffee as a complementary to other healthy meals. Always go for healthier alternatives that are available.

Why Does Coffee Make You Emotional?

Coffee makes you emotional because the drink may arouse unwanted emotions when the body is already undergoing negative thoughts, anxiety, anger, and similar activity.

Also, when you drink coffee in a situation your emotion is already stimulated, it may trigger further tension and pressed mood.

The presence of dopamine in the drink can promote behavioral changes due to caffeine. The changes in behavior and emotions might not be that much severe but since it can make certain emotions stronger, it’s best to avoid consuming them too often.

The caffeine in coffee surely changes your mood but to what extent it can affect your dimension of emotion is quite unclear.

A study evaluated emotional responses after coffee consumption and found that people experience different sorts of arousal after having it. Some reported that the coffee gave them a positive-lower energy feeling while some said it gave positive-high energy emotions.

Can Coffee Affect Anxiety?

Coffee doesn’t directly affect anxiety but the stimulant can act as a triggering factor for anxiety disorders. For individuals with anxiety issues, coffee consumed in a larger volume may bring out compulsive symptoms of anxiety. You can read my article about it if you’re interested in knowing more.

When coffee is ingested, the caffeine molecules interfere with the breakdown of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and this is why you experience certain neurological and cardiovascular changes in your system.

The changes in your nervous system may lead to overemphasize certain scenarios inside your brain and cause a sudden mental breakdown.

Coffee and anxiety
Caffeine may work as a triggering point for people with anxiety issues.

This study on the Panic disorder and social anxiety disorder subtypes in a caffeine challenge test showed that the chance of anxiety patients having a panic attack after testing caffeine is likely more than other healthy patients.

Though anxiety and depression are considered to be two different energy states for an individual, a person with depression tends to experience a lot of anxiety issues. Both the condition can lead to abrupt panic attacks and stress disorder.

Moreover, the chances of diagnosis of depression become higher when one is dealing with anxiety disorders for a long time.

This calls for concern over the caffeine-induced anxiety that has been prevalent among habitual drinkers. Curbing the consumption quantity may, however, reduce the chance of unwanted mental state in the future and less panicky feeling.

Watch how caffeine affects your anxiety.

Does Coffee Affect Behaviour?

Coffee itself doesn’t affect your behavior. It’s the caffeine that can take control of your behaviors as it’s a psychoactive stimulant.

Caffeine can take your body into a hyper-aroused state, triggering emotions. This state of mind overruns your behavior and puts the mind into a state of further anxiety and irritability. Simultaneously, your emotions take control over your mind and behavior.

The negative effects are not only behavioral but also physical. The change in mood comes with high blood pressure, racing heartbeat, chest pain, and even heavy breathing.

The psychoactive compound in the coffee can cause both cognitive perks and down. Caffeine’s addictive factor can intensify health problems. There has been intensive research going on regarding caffeine use disorder and more evidence is needed to get a reliable answer.

Does Coffee Worsen Bipolar?

Experts have concluded that caffeine works as an underrated bipolar trigger.

As mentioned earlier, the caffeine in your coffee can cause overdose and withdrawal symptoms in form of insomnia. This lack of sleep deprivation leads to a notorious trigger for bipolar mood swings.

A 2020 study on The impact of caffeine consumption on clinical symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder revealed that a high dose of caffeine intake can assist in the occurrence of maniac symptoms in the case of patients with bipolar disorder.

Caffeine exerts direct stimulant effects on the body, disrupting sleep and triggering the relapse or hypomanic episode.

Don’t worry if your caffeine consumption is within the recommended limit. I’d personally suggest keeping the caffeine quantity within 50-100 milligrams. Remember the mood depressing changes are acute in the case of large doses of caffeine.

Healthy individuals can ingest a safe quantity without worrying. People with bipolar disorder should consult an expert for further recommendations regarding the intake proportion.

Is Coffee Better At Reducing Depression Risk Than Tea?

Green tea
Green tea is equally effective in dealing with depressive symptoms.

Both coffee and certain varieties of teas are equally helpful in reducing the depression risk. People tend to prefer coffee more due to its quick energy-boosting effect.

The boosting effect from coffee is more energizing whereas the effect of tea is more relaxing and calming. While choosing the drink, it comes down to one’s preference. Both the beverages serve well in certain varieties and can promote better mental health for people having depression.

Basis of comparisonTeaCoffee
Caffeine ContentLower than coffeeHigher than tea
L-theaninePresent in tea naturallyDoesn’t contain it naturally
Boosting EffectMore calming effect within 15-20 minutes of ingestion More energizing effect within 15 minutes of ingestion
NutrientsContain a lower amount of potassium and phosphorus compared to coffeeContain a relatively higher content of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and protein
A quick comparison between tea and coffee.

The components of coffee are efficient in countering the negative impacts of depression. The chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, caffeine acid, etc all promote the anti-inflammatory activity of the coffee on the body. This may help in relieving stress and discomfort for the drinker.

This review concluded that there exists an inverse relation between green tea and coffee consumption on the depressive symptoms.

Thus, not all teas are less effective than coffee. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and can be as effective as coffee in preventing depressive symptoms. The L-theanine present in tea provides anti-stress effects that help in keeping calm.

Just like the caffeine content of coffee, the L-theanine along with caffeine in tea help s in maintaining your focus and sharpness. Green tea also contains folate that provides similar benefits in dealing with depression.

Does Coffee Worsen The Symptoms of Depression?

While moderate doses of caffeine may help you as a mild antidepressant, large doses may alternately worsen the symptoms of depression.

This effect is more profound in the case of people already dealing with anxiety and mood disorders.

Some of the widely experienced symptoms of depression include:

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tension
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Withdrawal from peers and family
  • Changes in eating pattern

There’re other symptoms as well. However, these are the most experienced ones and you could see that many of these symptoms are signs of caffeine withdrawal as well.

So if you’re a healthy individual, with no issues with your mental health, the accompanying symptoms might just be a sign of caffeine overdose or withdrawal. However, in the case of people with depression, coffee might not be the sole reason for triggering the symptoms but can be a reason behind the changes.

The boost offered by the coffee is relatively temporary as the half-life of caffeine is about 5 hours. After that period, depressed people may experience a severe drop in their mood and suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

This is why moderate consumption of coffee is always appreciated no matter the state of your body and mind.

In Conclusion

From the studies and reviews, it’s quite evident that coffee can help in reducing depressive symptoms with moderate intake. As the tolerance and health conditions of the individuals differ, one needs to understand how much is his/her limit.

For healthy individuals, moderate consumption won’t necessarily have any adverse effects on the mood and mind. However, for people with depressive symptoms, unmanageable caffeine consumption may trigger behavioral switch. In many situations, emotions may overrun your physical performance as well.

Since there’re no formal guidelines to help people with their depressive symptoms, if the caffeine is intensifying it somehow, immediately stop the intake. People who drink alcohol, smoke, or overeat may face more adverse depressive symptoms from caffeine.

Once again, moderation is the game, and how much you’re tolerant completely depends on your body’s health condition.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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