Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

According to a news report in The Register, people who drink coffee are substantially less at risk from depression than those who drink sweetened drinks. The article reports:

"Cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk," says Dr Honglei Chen of the US National Institutes of Health.

They further report a statement from the American Academy of Neurology on the research (my emphasis):

People who drank more than four cans or cups per day of soda were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who drank no soda. Those who drank four cans of fruit punch per day were about 38 percent more likely to develop depression than those who did not drink sweetened drinks. People who drank four cups of coffee per day were about 10 percent less likely to develop depression than those who drank no coffee.

This sounds like a pretty big relationship (though the direction of cause and effect is unclear). So the question is: is this a reliable result? Is there a significant relationship between coffee consumption and depression, or, in slightly populist language, does coffee make you saner?

share|improve this question
coffee (in particular caffeine) is a stimulant so are most anti-depressants – ratchet freak Jan 10 '13 at 18:53
is that coffee or coffee flavored sugared milk – Ryathal Jan 10 '13 at 19:06
@Ryathal look at the quote in the question "Cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee." seems they mean black coffee, or coffee with just milk and/or creamer. – Sam I Am Jan 11 '13 at 5:32
@ratchetfreak the two most popular antidepressant categories are SSRIs and SNRIs neither of which are stimulants. – Sam I Am Jan 11 '13 at 7:12

Yes. Per Xuguang Guo et al's 2014 study (Dr Honglei Chen is the part of this research group), "compared to nondrinkers, drinking coffee or tea without any sweetener was associated with a lower risk for depression, adding artificial sweeteners, but not sugar or honey, was associated with higher risks. Frequent consumption of sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, may increase depression risk among older adults, whereas coffee consumption may lower the risk."

In this large study of U.S. older adults, frequent consumption of sweetened beverages was associated with a modestly higher risk of depression, and coffee consumption with a slightly lower risk. As these drinks are commonly consumed, confirmation and further investigations are warranted.

share|improve this answer
I think some sort of correlation != causation warning is warranted. – Oddthinking Jun 27 '15 at 8:31

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.