Harvard Mental Health Letter

Why coffee perks people up

A large study suggests the caffeinated version may boost mood.

In the United States, 90% of adults consume caffeine on a regular basis — most often by drinking coffee. A study suggests that coffee not only wakes people up, but also may offer some protection against depression. What's less clear is why this might be.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital analyzed data collected from nearly 51,000 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study, all free of depression in 1996. The researchers then determined how many of the women had developed depression a decade later and compared their caffeine intake to determine whether it affected risk. (They also controlled for other health and lifestyle factors such as weight, cigarette smoking, and exercise.)

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