Caffeine as a chill pill

By Meredith W. Rutland • Published: January 18th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When it’s chilly outside, there’s nothing quite like snuggling up with a good book and a warm cup of joe.

But did you know that the effects of sipping coffee may help women maintain peace of mind well after the cup is empty?

A recent study found women who drink caffeinated coffee are 20 percent less likely to be depressed than non-coffee drinkers. During the course of the 10-year study, researchers surveyed about 51,000 women and found depression became less common with each extra cup per day someone drank.

Women who drank tea, soda or other caffeinated beverages didn’t get the same benefits as women who drank coffee — possibly because the other drinks don’t pack as much of a caffeine punch as a cup of coffee.

Other studies have found that coffee could reduce the risk of suicidal depression, type 2 diabetes and several cancers.

This doesn’t mean you should rush out and load up on extra-large quadruple-shot lattes, though. The researchers say more research is needed to determine how caffeine relates to these conditions, and doctors warn that too much caffeine can lead to anxiety and insomnia. And, of course, that’s not taking into account the amount of sugar some people add to their morning cup of Joe.

But you may not actually need all that caffeine to get a boost. One study found that just thinking you’re drinking caffeinated coffee can make you happier. Volunteers were blindfolded and given cups of coffee, some caffeinated, some not. Those who were told they were drinking caffeinated coffee, whether they actually were, said they felt happier than those who were told they were drinking decaf.

So the next time you need a pick-me-up, it might be OK to go on over to that coffee shop on the corner. If there’s only decaf in sight, grab a cup and pretend it’s caffeinated. It may put a smile on your face after all.