Feeling a little down today? In our past blog post Coffee and Your Health: Current Findings, it was stated that coffee increases dopamine (a “feel-good” chemical) production in your brain, which in turn reduces symptoms of depression, especially in women. Unaware of this benefit, I decided to research this a little more to see exactly how coffee affects the stimulation of dopamine and how this can help improve your mood.

In case you didn’t know, dopamine is a neurotransmitter known for activating pleasure-enhancing properties by signaling reward within certain parts of your brain. It releases feelings of pleasure or satisfaction, and is usually in response to activities like eating favorite foods and sex. Dopamine makes you feel good, which in turn makes you crave it (and the triggers that help release dopamine) even more.

Depression for women is twice as more likely than for men. This is believed to be due to the changes in hormone levels that occur regularly throughout a woman’s life. Approximately 12 million women in America experience clinical depression each year, and is most common between the ages of 25 to 44. It is estimated that 17.5 million Americans in general suffer from depression every year. According to an article found on hsph.harvard.edu, the risk of suicide for adults who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee a day was cut in half compared to adults who drink decaffeinated or very little to no coffee.

According to the Huffington Post, Americans consume over 400 million cups of coffee per day, which is equivalent to 146 billion cups of coffee per year. This makes the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world. In a new study done by researchers from Harvard University, results showed that women who drink two to four cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 15-20% lower risk of depression. This is because caffeine increases the production of dopamine in the brain’s pleasure circuits, thus becoming one of those triggers that release dopamine that we crave. It’s no surprise that so many Americans claim to be coffee addicts… they actually might be!

Coffee lovers rejoice. Next time you’re feeling a little down, trying drinking a cup of coffee… positive feelings come with every sip!

by Sky Andersen

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