Regular followers of this blog know that I am the poster girl for Maxwell House (Keurig, Bustelo, Folgers, Melita...) and of my dependence on coffee to keep me functional and to keep any hovering Inattentive ADHD symptoms at bay. My daily regimen includes a cup of cafe con leche when I first wake up and a cup of coffee every 2-3 hours from 8am until 3pm. You might say that I stay medicated throughout the school day (just like my combined type son) and you would be right!
I was happy to read the findings of a recently completed study that found that coffee help depression but I was alarmed to read, in this same study, that sweetened beverages, including juice and diet soda, increased your risk for depression. I am not a big juice drinker and neither are my kids but I do enjoy a diet coke pretty regularly (but not four a day). I will be cutting down to no more than one sweetened beverage a day. I have never taken sweetener in my Cuban or American coffee so my body must have known about these findings all along. My inattentive son also has never sweetened his coffee. The apple does not fall far from the tree. Cubans tend to drink their coffee with lots of sugar but I have never liked it that way.
The coffee and depression study was conducted by the National Institutes of Health and included people ages fifty to seventy-one. They followed over a quarter million adults for ten years and then, in 2010, asked them if they had been diagnosed with depression since the year 2000. What they found was that the adults who drank four cups of coffee per day were ten percent less likely to develop depression while the adults that drank four or more sweet beverages, regardless of how they were sweetened (sugar, honey, Splenda, Nutrasweet) per day, were thirty to thirty-eight percent more likely to have been diagnosed with depression.
The effect that coffee has on ADHD and Inattentive ADD are well known to me. There are are number of animal studies that have found that, in rats exposed to unpredictable chronic stress, caffeine ingestion reduces depression and anxiety symptoms and these rat brains, after the caffeine consumption, have an increased amount of dopamine and serotonin.
Dopamine and serotonin affect ADHD too and I have written about how Inattentive ADHD often co-exists and is worsened by anxiety and depression. For those of us fortunate to have most of our symptoms controlled by coffee, exercise, sleep and a healthy diet, these coffee findings confirm what we already know. For those of us that are on stimulants, care must be taken to not drink too much coffee as it can cause worsening jitters and anxiety in patients that are on Ritalin, Adderall or other stimulants. It should also be noted that pregnant women and persons with a low calcium intake should not consume excess amounts of caffeine because of the possible negative effects on pregnancy and osteoporosis.
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