This article is from the WebMD News Archive

Drink Coffee, Stay Happy?

cup of coffee

Sept. 26, 2011 -- Some coffee drinkers may have a reason to smile -- or keep smiling.

Drinking several cups a day is linked with a lower risk of depression, according to a new study that looked only at women. The benefit seems to start at two cups a day.

The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine .

"We found that women with the highest coffee intake -- those in the top 20% -- had a 20% lower risk of developing depression," says researcher Alberto Ascherio, MD, DrPH. "The top 20% drank about the equivalent of four cups of coffee per day." Ascherio is professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The link was not found for decaffeinated coffee.

Ascherio emphasizes that he found an association, not cause and effect. Depression affects twice as many women as men, he notes. About 20% of U.S. women will be affected during their lifetime.

A mental health expert cautions that the research finding should be viewed cautiously. "I wouldn't tell my patients to drink more caffeine based on this study," says Michelle Riba, MD, associate director of the University of Michigan Depression Center. She reviewed the study but was not involved in it.

Top Picks