Can Caffeine Cause Depression?

Medically Reviewed on 12/2/2021
Caffeine and depression
Researchers are divided as to whether caffeine causes depression, with some believing moderate consumption could help, while others believe it’ll make things worse.

The medical community is divided on the effect of caffeine on depression. Some people believe caffeine can help, whereas others believe it will make things worse.

Caffeine is a stimulant that can alter the mood. It can be found in many of the world's most popular beverages, including tea, coffee, energy drinks, and many soft drinks.

Caffeine alters brain function, influencing mood and behavior in the following ways:

  • The positive impact of caffeine on depression
    • A substantial body of literature supports the hypothesis that caffeine can help lower the risk of depression, which is evidenced by studies that show moderation intake has been shown to protect people from mental health disorders.
    • Studies discovered that coffee worked better than tea, owing to the latter's lower caffeine content.
    • Coffee contains chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, and caffeic acid. These acids may help reduce the inflammation of nerve cells that occurs in the brains of people who suffer from depression.
  • The negative impact of caffeine on depression
    • Caffeine has been linked to an increase in depression in people with mood disorders, particularly those who are prone to panic attacks, according to research, because it may make them feel more anxious.
    • Too much coffee or tea can cause headaches, increased blood pressure, and palpitation. It may activate the body's flight or fight response, which may result in inflammation and disease.
    • Caffeine potentially alters the activity of two neurotransmitters that are especially important in depression: dopamine and serotonin.
      • Serotonin is the neurotransmitter most closely associated with depression. However, evidence suggests that caffeine consumption depletes serotonin levels over time.
      • Caffeine raises dopamine levels, the neurotransmitter most closely linked to motivation, focus, and productivity. Dopamine imbalances, however, can lead to depression.

Caffeine causes mood improvement if it is consumed moderately daily.

Keep in mind that caffeine only gives the nervous system a temporary boost. As a result, once the effect wears off, people suffering from depression may experience a more severe drop in mood.

The truth is that all answers are currently not known on coffee’s role in depression. Drinking coffee or tea may or may not be beneficial. Therefore, if a person suffers from depression, they must develop coping mechanisms and seek professional help.

Is caffeine addictive?

Caffeine use regularly can lead to physical dependence. If a person stops using caffeine-containing products abruptly, they may feel:

These symptoms typically appear 18 to 24 hours after the last caffeine consumption and gradually fade over the next week.

However, studies have shown that caffeine begins to take effect in about five minutes and reaches its peak effect in about 30 minutes when consumed as a beverage.

The body takes about four hours to metabolize half of a given dose of caffeine. Usually, almost all caffeine consumed is metabolized, and there is no day-to-day accumulation of the drug in the body.

What are the long-term effects of caffeine?

Most people have no problems with 400 mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to four cups of coffee. Caffeine, however, has different effects on people based on their:

  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Age

If a person is caffeine sensitive, even small doses may cause:

Health and nutrition experts consider caffeine consumption of more than 600 mg per day (equivalent to four to seven cups of coffee) to be excessive.

Excessive caffeine consumption (e.g., more than four cups of coffee per day) over time may result in:

Caffeine withdrawal is difficult after a long period of consumption because the body must adjust to life without it. Withdrawal symptoms usually appear 12 to 24 hours after the last dose. The effects may last from two to seven days or even longer in heavy drinkers.

The signs and symptoms of caffeine withdrawal may include:

Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant on the planet. For centuries, it has been used to stimulate the senses and energize the body. Many people drink coffee, tea, energy drinks, or caffeinated soft drinks in the morning to boost their energy and alertness.

Caffeine highs can last for a few hours, but caffeine levels drop dramatically after the initial high, which can lead to depression and anxiety.

Consult your doctor as soon as possible if your depression becomes a problem.


Learn to Spot Depression: Symptoms, Warning Signs, Medication See Slideshow
Medically Reviewed on 12/2/2021
Image Source: iStock Images

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