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Thread: Does caffeine help depression? page

  1. #1
    healthy11's Avatar
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    Does caffeine help depression?

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    Hello,

    Depression runs in my family and I still seem to battle it now and again. I seem to be going through a bout of it. What I am finding is that I feel less depressed and pretty good for a couple of hours in the morning when I drink coffee and wonder if the stimulant helps me. If that is the case I wonder if an afternoon caffeine pill would be worth trying? I don't like to drink coffee in the afternoon. I don't think the caffeine would keep me up at night, in fact it would be nice to be more alert in the evening. I feel like I lose focus and concentration in the afternoon and evening and am ready for bed by 8pm. If I were to try a caffeine pill is there a "clean" brand/type I could take? Anything to this?

    Oh and FYI... I drink two cups in the morning.

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    Insert standard "I'm sad without my coffee" joke here.

    While caffeine hasn't had much of an impact on my moods (I've previously been on antidepressants), I've found that D3 -- or, for that matter, just being outside in the sun -- helps exponentially.

    If you want other caffeine options, how about black or green tea? Or some dark chocolate (75% cacao or better) for dessert?

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    I know that the smell of coffee elevates the mood. I would try carrying around the coffee beans and just smelling them when you feel low before starting to jack up caffeine intake. It impacts blood sugar levels and mood swings can be a bad idea. That's one of the reasons I usually do not drink coffee, I find it unhinges me, and sends on the up and down mood and energy trips. You actually may feel steadier energy if you give up coffee entirely. It will be hell for a couple of weeks, but then at least for me, everything gets much, much better. Well, I also try to keep of all other sugars too, since I am most sensitive to sugar in mood/energy department.
    Last edited by Leida; 08-22-2012 at 05:49 AM.
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    What you are suggesting would work in the short term. You would likely feel more energized in the afternoon as you said. The problem is that caffeine as with any other drug starts to lose its "kick" and you would need to up the dose in a short amount of time to get the same effect. This could very quickly lead to burnout or adrenal problems down the road, which would just make depression even more likely.

    The best way to avoid or keep depression at bay is to eat a clean diet, get plenty of exercise and rest and be spiritually healthy. Meditation is essential here. Also having a real purpose in life. Something that you are very passionate about that you can immerse yourself in on a daily basis. It is difficult to be depressed when you are doing what you are meant to be doing. Far too many of us aren't and its a major blockage to true happiness.

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    Long ago I suffered some pretty bad depression and self-medicated with caffeine. I drank a lot of coffee in the morning and a lot of tea or diet soda in the afternoon. We're talking liters of it. It really did help immensely, but the cause of the depression was likely the lack of fat and protein in my diet. At the time I was my thinnest adult weight, I was cycling up a mountain or running every day and eating only vegetables, no meat, no carbs except what was in the vegetables, very little fat. Eventually I crashed and had to go on medication.
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    I tend to get depression as well, especially in the last several months that I've been dealing w/ mercury toxicity. Caffeine definitely makes me feel better. I got to the point that I was taking a fat burner daily just for the boost in mood. I then went on ADHD meds for awhile (I convinced both myself and my doc that I had it because I felt SO much better w/caffeine), until it made my hair start to fall out. Too much caffeine will stress your adrenals. A supplement that has worked very well for me is L-Tyrosine. I take 750mgs in the morning and afternoon, and I feel significantly perked up about half an hour later. It's also one of the supplements that's recommended for mood balance in the book The Diet Cure.
    That being said, if you decide to have caffeine in the afternoon, I would just stick with coffee. In addition to caffeine, it's got other good things in it as well, such as antioxidants, which a caffeine pill would not.

    Good luck!

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    Maybe I will try L-Tyrosine ... I have read The Diet Cure, but so many supplements made it seem a bit unreasonable. Thanks for the tip! I am afraid of adding more caffeine because of what is said above abot eventually crashing or needing more or stressing my adrenals. I do feel as though meditation would be beneficial, too. Thank you for your input and for sharing your experiences!
    Last edited by healthy11; 08-22-2012 at 12:04 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JackieKessler View Post
    Insert standard "I'm sad without my coffee" joke here.
    Haha... it's true

  9. #9
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    I have extensive personal experience with this. My advice:

    Coffee releases dopamine. That tends to make anyone feel more alert and better. So the first question, imo, is whether you have low-serotonin depression or low-dopamine depression. Or, if like meeee, you have BOTH! Which you totally can. ALAS.

    This page has a great, straightforward guide to assessing how you feel and figuring out your serotonin or dopamine status:
    http://www.articlesbase.com/self-imp...ce-333400.html

    Since your question is about using caffeine in the afternoon, the issue would be whether you need a dopamine boost at that time or not. This is key because you may be shifting into low-serotonin at this later point in the day. In non-depressed (lucky) people, dopamine will be up in the morning, making them alert and energized to (in evolutionary/survival terms) go out and secure resources, food, shelther etc.

    But as the day moves through afternoon and into evening, diurnal animals like us will have dopamine fall and serotonin rise. This is so we'll chill out and be moving towards sundown and, crucially, not be dopamine-wired and sleepless. As Mark says, sleeeeeep. Sleep is very very important for depressed people as well, just because if you don't sleep, your dopamine/serotonin the next day will both be crap. Even in non-depressed people. (Which is why, one would assume, they get all cranky and feel like hell all day. Among many other sleep-deprivation induced problems.)

    So if you have low-serotonin depression to start, or both, caffeine in the afternoon could actually deplete your already-low serotonin, making you feel more depressed.

    However! For extra fun, if you have ADHD (like meeee) or even various subtypes of low-dopamine depression, caffeine at late afternoon or even evening/night may actually make you feel relaxed and able to sleep. (This is, they figure, because the caffeine stimulates the 'stop worrying about all that stuff!!' switch in your brain, and you are then able to go to sleep.)

    The takeaway from this is that you're going to have to pay attention to your levels of depression v. feeling focused/happily relaxed at various times of the day. Then you'll have to try caffeine out and see what it does. Everyone is different and responds in idiosyncratic ways.

    Black tea or matcha green tea (or yerba mate, or so on) could be afternoon alternatives to coffee too. Matcha is a much slower caffeine hit due to the theanine, I think. Cocoa powder is also caffeine-y enough for some people.

    Anyway, good luck! Depression sucks very very hard, and I hope you continue to find solutions to help you feel better.

    I've spent a lot of time searching for my own depression management tactics/drugs/etc, so feel free to PM me with specific questions if you'd like. You could also do a forum search, there's been a ton of caffeine-depression relief threads.

    Oh, and since I have that conk out at 8-9pm issue myself, I find that a walk right after dinner helps a LOT. Doesn't have to be very brisk or long walk, either.
    Last edited by Nycea Pacific; 08-22-2012 at 01:04 PM.

  10. #10
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    This is really interesting. Depression (and anxiety) has been a problem for me for about 2 years now, and I have a cup of coffee every morning just because I like the taste. It never occurred to me to look into it this deeply. Thanks for all the info Nycea Pacific, especially that page about serotonin/dopamine. It looks like my problem is with the former.

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