Here’s how caffeine affects depression

By Kristen Underwood — / Death Wish Coffee Blog

What effect does caffeine have on depression? 

It’s no secret that coffee has an effect on our mood. I don’t know about you, but that first sip of strong coffee has me begging for more. Call me addicted, I’ll call you insane.

Along with a temporary rise in your mood shortly after your heavenly sip, several studies from the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry have indicated that coffee can help prevent mild to moderate depression — a disorder that affects 15 percent of people in high-income nations. 

Although depression often appears to be a result of low serotonin levels in the brain, a new hypothesis is on the horizon. This hypothesis suggests that depression is a result of a bad immune reaction that causes inflammation to the brain. Being packed with antioxidants, coffee naturally helps alleviate this kind of inflammation

Another hypothesis suggests that the anti-depressive effects of caffeinated coffee are a direct result of the caffeine. Due to caffeine being a psychoactive stimulant, it is known to increase motivation and wakefulness, making it that much easier to "rise and shine."

If you already fall into a deep, sound sleep easily, you probably have very little adenosine in your central nervous system when you're awake. However, for someone who has trouble sleeping or has sleep disturbances often throughout the night, you may start to accumulate adenosine, causing drowsiness along with a lack of motivation and energy. 

While caffeine binds to adenosine receptors, it does not activate them. Instead, it blocks these receptors, preventing them from causing the normal cellular response that leads to this lack of motivation and energy. Caffeine for the win, am I right? Possibly. In short term, this shows to be beneficial for staying awake and alert, but it doesn't explain how coffee can prevent depression in the long run.

If coffee helps to increase motivation and to make us happier by binding to adenosine receptors, this may support the long-term effect it has on depression.

Related: Can coffee actually help your mental health?


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