Coffee reduces depression risk?

Two double-shot espressos a day keeps the Prozac away?

Walter Willet and Alberto Ascherio (both of the Trans Fat Railroad) use their perpetual junk science machine (i.e., the Nurses Health Study) to posit that increasing caffeine consumption may be associated with decreasing risk of depression.

Though we love caffeine as much as the next awake person, Willet and Ascherio’s reported correlations (e.g., a relative risk of 0.82 for 4 or more cups of coffee per day) are too small to be credible.

As is standard with Nurses Health Study junk science, exposures, disease and confounding risk factors are all self-reported and, hence, not reliable. Simply put, bad data do not make for a credible statistical analysis.

No doubt Willet and Ascherio are relying on the intuitive nature of their claim to carry the day with the unsuspecting public and the ever-gullible media.

Coffee keeps you awake, but not from being sad about it.

BTW, if you’re interested in one of’s early pieces (from November 1999) on the Willet-Ascherio Trans Fat Railroad, click here.

23 thoughts on “Coffee reduces depression risk?”

  1. Any type of humor can be destructive. It’s all how you use it. When you’re laughing, something is being laughed at, whether an innocent pun, or a pun that offends. For the record, this reply is fun-free. It is not pun-filled at all.

  2. Depression isn’t amusement, but the coffee study is. If anything that study makes light of it. Also, I’ve heard caffeine can have the opposite effect on ADD/ADHD/and other chemical imbalances/abnormalties in the brain. Someone should do a study; I’m sure there already is one.

    Satire, which makes use of sarcasm, can be used very effectly to point out fallacies in arguements and the like. It forces people to think about things in ways they may not otherwise think. Swift’s Modest Proposal outraged many with his satirical suggestion of eating children to help solve hunger and other problems, but it also brought attention to the subject. I think most people have caught on now that he wasn’t serious about eating babies.

    And guess what. In sixth grade I was diagnosed with depression, and prescribed zoloft, and later neurotin (I have no idea on the spellings). I take none now.

  3. I have to agree with all three of you, in moderation. Perpetual medication generally has not-so-nice side effects (I don’t know about antidepressants specifically, but long-term liver damage is an effect of statins). Also, there is a tendency to overprescribe certain medications such as antidepressants and Ritalin. I know several people, myself included, that successfully deal with mild ADD with the aid of excessive caffeine consumption.

    However, when medication is needed, it should be given, not withheld over some over-zealous fearmongering.

  4. @Michele Bee, You may just be hyperactive! I believe that people addicted to nicotine and who regularly use other stimulants to calm down are probably self-treating hyperactivity, possibly chemical/neurochemical depression.

  5. This subject matter may be a source of amusement for some people, but not for those of us whose brains literally shut down without large doses of antidepressants. Depression is not all about sadness; the illness needs a more accurate name. I wish the public at large, including Junk Science Man, would get this straight. Sarcasm is a destructive form of humor, by the way.

    Here’s some conflicting personal, anecdotal experience: Sometimes coffee does help me to think more clearly, just like its effect on a “normal” person, but occasionally the caffeine-rich drink puts me straight to sleep.

  6. As someone who has watched what family members struggle with mental illness, I thank you for your post. You are 100% correct and in sync with the latest in research.
    The other poster needs to go back to school and understand what real science is. I suggest he take a course at his local NAMI chapter.

  7. Coffee isn’t the only liquid that fights depression!
    As an old friend always said, “Better a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.”

  8. It is sad to see someone try to discourage people from seeking help when they are sick. Depression (and, BTW schizoprenia) are BRAIN DISEASES that prevent one from fully functioning in society. Antidepressants enable thousands of people to live and love their lives. Anyone who wants to know more about mental illness should read The BROKEN BRAIN by Nancy C. Andreasen. Or if depressed call the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Mental illness should be treated, not consigned to voodoo doctors such as Dr. Scott!!!

  9. If you’re tired, you’re not thinking about too much… it’s when you’re awake that you start thinking about all of you’re problems. Too tired to think = less depression. New study based on my self reported claims.

    Being awake makes you depressed! Sleeping makes you not dperessed! Caffeine causes suicides! People in comas are shown to be the happiest in the world!

    (Note: this is a type of humor known as, “satire,” that makes use of what is known as, “sarcasm.”)

  10. I feel great after two mugs of my royal rum pecan coffee in the morning and another in late afternoon..
    When my family is feeling down we do go for the coffee. and then some of us go for a run afterwards.

    I strongly believe this data…
    vietnam combat vet

  11. Actually, it would be a whole lot safer – antidepressants are deadly. People are dying 25 years earlier due to the damage they inflict on the body – they cause early senility, liver, kidney and heart damage. You should really read Robert Whitaker’s books, “Anatomy of an Epidemic” and “Mad in America” plus Dr. Timothy Scott’s “America Fooled”. Psychiatry and psychiatric drugging are the biggest frauds ever perpetrated in this country’s history.

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