D – Depression Defence
Depression is not an enjoyable mental position to be in. Having never personally suffered from this illness, I’m in no position to begin dishing out descriptions on how it feels to be in this deep state of dejection. From what I do know, it can cause high levels of fatigue, insomnia, overeating, pessimism, digestive problems, aches and pains throughout the body, feelings of guilt and helplessness, and even thoughts of suicide. People have been suffering depression (or melancholia as it was once named) for thousands of years and it continues to affect almost 20% of all adults in the United Kingdom today (1).
But how does coffee have anything to do with depression?
Having a slurp of black Betty in the morning certainly raises my spirits to where they need to be in order to start my day. The flavour, the sensation, the buzz; it’s all there. And why I feel these sensations is rather simple.
Serotonin (which balances your mood), dopamine (which helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres) and noradrenaline (which helps with arousal, mood, and blood pressure) are three neurotransmitters that we need in order to remain in our happy-healthy states. A reduction in any of these three neurotransmitters can result in anxiety, fatigue, restlessness, and ultimately, depression.
Coffee, however, increases the production of these kinky little neurotransmitters. Meaning that a consistent, daily moderate intake of coffee can leave you feeling happy, rewarded, pleasured and aroused… Hmm.
In a study published by Harvard University, ‘Drinking several cups of coffee daily appears to reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by about 50 percent’ (2). 50 percent! That is a massive amount of lives saved. Am I allowed to say that? By using this piece of research can I actually say that coffee saves lives?
I can, and I will.
But, by saying this, I also have to provide my own counter argument.
We all know someone who drinks way too much coffee. I met a bubbly little chap just last week who claimed to drink 15 cups a day. His teeth were the colour of Donald Trump’s skin. By sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, pounding cup after cup of coffee, you’re not going to do yourself any good. We all know that caffeine is known for giving that perky, pleasurable burst of energy, but when you have nowhere to release that bouncy burst you’re going to be left with the nasty feeling of anxiety. Through personal experience I can relate; 6 espressos within the span of 90 minutes lead me to sweat like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
The recommended daily amount of caffeine according to BBC Health is 400mg, or about 3 – 5 cups of coffee (unless you’re pregnant, in which case it drops to 200mg, or 1.5 – 2.5 cups)(3) . Remember that caffeine is also present in tea, chocolate, certain medicines, and of course soft drinks (though, why you’d ever have the need to drink soft drinks leaves me incredibly baffled).
Coffee saves lives.