A few years ago, scientists from Harvard Medical School researched the relationship between coffee beans and depression in women. You can read the full report published by the Jama Network here.
From 1996 to 2006 50,739 US women who were free from depressive symptoms at baseline recorded the amount of coffee they consumed on a daily basis through regular questionaires.
The results showed that after 2006 when the experiment ended only 2,600 women showed symptoms of depression at some point during the experiment; however, these women tended to be low coffee drinkers or they didn’t drink any coffee at all.
At the other end of the scale, the women who consumed more coffee beans – between two to three cups of coffee a day – decreased their risk of getting depression by as much as 15%. Participants who had as much as four cups or more of coffee a day decreased their risk of getting depression by as much as 20%.
Although researchers aren’t entirely sure why coffee beans might help to prevent depression, it is thought that caffeine enhances your mood by altering the chemical pathways in your brain.
With no solid evidence, the results, however, could just be a coincidence. Perhaps people who are on the verge of getting depression don’t drink much coffee as it can disturb sleep – one of the side effects of depression.
Some researchers, however, believe the results make sense and tie in with previous research that focused on the relationship between caffeine and suicide. It’s thought that caffeine works by blocking adenosine which according to Professor Bertil Fredholm in a BBC report, works by producing a similar efffect to increasing dopamine production.
So, although the results aren’t set in stone, drinking coffee regularly might decrease your chances of developing depression. It would be interesting to see if coffee beans could also help to make depression more bearable in people who have the illness.