Can a Cup of Coffee a Day Keep the Blues Away?

Can your daily coffee prevent depression and lower your stress levels?Attention coffee lovers: your daily pick-me-up may have a whole new meaning. According to a new study, women who drink caffeinated coffee are less likely to suffer from depression. Not only that, but the more you drink, the lower the risk. Before you race to your local Starbucks, get the facts.

This is all pretty good news for those of us who are dedicated to our caffeine fix, especially as cooler weather hits, fall schedules and stress levels get a bit overwhelming, and the winter blues creep in. The health benefits—and dangers—of coffee have been debated for some time, and researchers are quick to point out that this new information in no way proves a “cause and effect” relationship. The study only shows that there is a correlation, and doesn’t aim to suggest that coffee can actively prevent or treat depression. For those of us who’ve had a few shots too many, it’s no secret too much caffeine can also have negative effects, including anxiety, insomnia, heart problems, and dependence.

Nevertheless, the study provides a welcome jumping-off point for finding the truth behind how coffee effects for our overall well-being, and why drinkers find it so irresistible. And for those of us with healthy lifestyles and a healthy coffee habit to match, it begs the question of what other secrets might hiding beneath its rich, steaming surface.

Some experts reason coffee’s antioxidants may have something to do with its health benefits. But the study also kept track of women who drank only decaf, and discovered that their likelihood of suffering from depression was no different than those who didn’t drink coffee at all. Others researchers believe that it must be the caffeine, but data is lacking to compare coffee’s depression rates to that of caffeinated teas or sodas.

What’s more, it’s also possible that individuals who are less likely to be depressed are simply more likely to drink coffee. After all, active, busy people are less likely to experience depressive symptoms and they also tend to drink more coffee—and not necessarily the other way around.

Researchers have previously found that coffee can help protect against some neuronal health issues, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders which can present with depressive symptoms. It’s possible that there’s one single element that ties all these findings together; of course, more research is needed.

Regardless, this is welcome and exciting news indeed—it’s good to know that within moderation, a cup a day might just keep the doctor (and the blues) away.

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Ron Pevny is the founder and director of the Center for Conscious Eldering. He received his masters degree in Integral Counseling and Psychotherapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is a Certified Sage-ing Leader with Sage-ing International and is a member of their Coordinating Circle. He is also active in the Life Planning Network and is a contributor to Second Journey. He conducts workshops across the country, including at Earthrise and IONS Retreat Center.

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