Feeling down? Pay a visit to your local Starbucks or coffee shop before seeing your doctor! A new study reported that woman who regularly drink four or more cups of caffeinated coffee daily are less likely to suffer from depression than those who don’t consume coffee. Decaffeinated versions of the drink didn’t seem to be linked at all with depression.

The study found a 15% lower risk of depression for women who drank two to three cups a day.

“This may lessen concerns that caffeine consumption will have a negative impact,” said Dr. Christopher Cargile, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. “Caffeine at high doses has long been associated with worsening of anxiety and other psychiatric illness, and at times this has lead to lingering concerns that it might be best to limit its use.”

The study can be found in the September 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. These authors tracked almost 51,000 women, averaging age 63, who were participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. None of the women reported being depressed at the beginning of the study and none were on antidepressants. Depression was measured by new diagnoses accompanied by long-term use of antidepressants.

Women who drank four cups of coffee or more a day had a 20 percent reduced risk for depression and those imbibing two to three cups daily had a 15 percent decreased risk, compared to those drinking one cup or less daily. Still, researchers need to determine if there is a cause-and-effect relationship before they can make any further claims.

A typical 8 oz. or 240 mL cup of caffeinated coffee contains 95 to 200 milligrams of caffeine. Caffeine content varies depending on the type of coffee bean and brewing factors such as roasting, grinding and brewing time. Not a coffee drinker? Try herbal teas such as green, chai or black tea.

Okay, so maybe it’s a little too premature to recommend coffee as an effective treatment for depression, but at least avid coffee drinkers can feel good about their addiction.

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