Caffeine consumption is affiliated with a number of benefits and drawbacks. Often, in addition to a sense of alertness, one of the most common perks mentioned in discussions about caffeine consumption is a boost in mood. When it comes to depression, though, does caffeine really help?
What Is Depression?
First, let’s talk about what it means to live with depression. Depression is more than sadness, and it is not the same as feeling sad from time to time. Worldwide, it’s said that 264 million people live with depression. There are various different types of depression or depressive disorders, with one of the most common being major depressive disorder or MDD. Symptoms of depression may include but are not limited to:
- A low or depressed mood
- Loss of interest in activities one would typically enjoy
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Social isolation or withdrawal from others
- Slowed psychomotor activity or movements
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Changes in appetite
- Excessive crying
- Emotional numbness
Depression can be situational, but if symptoms of depression persist, it may be due to a depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder is not the only type of depression there is. Persistent depressive disorder, postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and depressive episodes in those with bipolar and other related disorders are also common ways that a person might experience depression.
What The Research Says About Caffeine And Depression
Some theorize that caffeine can provide a boost for those with depression, while others cite the potential for adverse mental health implications. In fact, there are studies that confirm this to be true on both sides.
As for the possibility that caffeine is associated with a lower risk of depression, research does show somewhat of a correlation. One study conducted on the link between coffee and depression specifically found that coffee consumption can decrease the risk of depression by up to one third. Another study, which looked specifically at women, found that caffeine was indeed affiliated with lower scores of depression among those included. So, you drink a moderate amount of coffee and find that it boosts your mood, you’re not alone. That said, moderation is key. Although the benefits are there, the adverse effects of caffeine tend to show up in the general population when too much is consumed.
How much caffeine is too much? Experts recommend that the average healthy adult sticks to around 400 milligrams of caffeine or less per day. Be wary, too, that stopping caffeine consumption out of nowhere can have adverse effects. If you enjoy your coffee and aren’t experiencing negative impacts, there’s nothing wrong with that. The important part is that it’s not the only way you are addressing your mood or mental health, especially if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or another mental health condition. Caffeine is not a treatment for depressive disorders or other mental health conditions. Make sure to talk with your doctor if you have questions about caffeine consumption.
What’s The Best Treatment For Depression?
While coffee may not treat depression, the good news is that depression is indeed a highly treatable condition. Most commonly, depression is treated using therapy, medication*, or a combination of both. A number of different types of therapy are proven by research to help those with depression reduce their symptoms significantly and improve their quality of life. Forms of talk therapy like CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy, ACT or acceptance and commitment therapy, and IPT or interpersonal therapy are non-invasive forms of therapy that may be used for depression, though they are by no means the only forms of therapy that can be used to treat depression. The best or most effective treatment will vary from person to person, so it’s vital that you don’t give up if the first line of treatment you try isn’t the right fit. Factors surrounding lifestyle and life circumstances, such as sleep, stress, and social support, also matter when it comes to addressing depression. Knowing that you aren’t alone can be cathartic in and of itself. If you’re struggling, it’s crucial to reach out for help. If you believe that you may have depression, reach out to a qualified healthcare professional such as a primary care physician or psychiatrist who can assess your symptoms and provide you with a diagnosis. You do not need to have a diagnosis to go to therapy, and therapy can help people facing a number of different circumstances, including those related and unrelated to mental health conditions. Whether you’re facing depression or something else that’s impacting your life, a therapist or counselor can help.
*Please consult with your doctor or primary care physician before considering any medication options.
Find A Therapist
Sometimes, the hard part isn’t wanting help but knowing where to look. To find a therapist, you can search the web, ask your doctor for a referral, look for low-cost resources in your area, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, or sign up for a reputable online therapy platform with licensed providers like BetterHelp. The providers on the BetterHelp platform have a wide range of specialties, and online therapy is often more affordable than traditional in-person services are without insurance. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve to feel your best and get the care you need. Don’t hesitate to take the first step and reach out today.