How Coffee Affects Your Dopamine Levels

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Coffee Affects Your Dopamine Levels

You might be wondering why your crankiness disappears after drinking a cup of coffee or why you need to create one whenever you feel stressed out or something. It is not surprising at all that coffee can have that positive effect that many of us can benefit from throughout the day. It is a euphoric drink that can help us first thing in the morning.

However, coffee may have other mood benefits other than merely elevating our mood meter after its intake. Recent studies indicate how coffee can help prevent mild to moderate depression- a disorder that we should help raise awareness.


Depression, as you all know, is a common and severe medical illness that affects the way you feel, act or think. It is entirely different from sadness or grief. Here are some of the differences between depression and sadness or grief.

  • In grief, you will feel pain mixed with positive memories. It may only last for a few days. While in major depression, you will feel a decrease in pleasure or interest that will continue for two weeks.
  • Self-esteem is still intact in grief, while feelings of self-loathe and worthlessness are common in depression

People with depression are always wearing a mask that hides their emotions. You may think that they are still coping and can continue with their lives. Though they may smile or laugh, what’s inside them is where the issue is. The emotional turmoil that these people are undergoing is a tough one, and we should not take this for granted.

Caffeine and Dopamine

There are no concrete answers yet on how coffee helps alleviate depression. However, researchers are looking into two possible reasons, and one of them is the anti-depressive effects of caffeinated coffee. Coffee helps to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain.

Dopamine though is not just about pleasure. It is one of the vital force behind our actions and interpersonal relationships. The one that makes us feel superhuman. Caffeine increases the amount of dopamine by binding to adenosine receptors (the one that causes drowsiness and lack of motivation) in the striatum, which is a part of your brain that helps in decision-making, motivation and reward perception.

If coffee helps release dopamine and helps in increasing motivation, then this might explain its long-term effect on the depressive disorder.

Effects of Caffeine

There are still a few debates on how caffeine can affect depression. There are positive and negative effects of caffeine on our health. The possible positive impact of caffeine on depression shows that caffeine can reduce the incidence of depression.

There are studies conducted in China that caffeine-related depression was relatively low. Also, the risk of depression decreased when individuals increase their daily intake of caffeine. Researchers concluded that consumption of coffee and caffeine significantly reduced the risk of depression.

Coffee contains chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, and caffeic acid, which can reduce the inflammation of the nerve cells in the brain that affects the people with depression. Along with the caffeine’s natural antioxidants, coffee can act as an anti-inflammatory to the affected part of the brain. It may relieve some of the discomfort and distress caused by the depression, which is the effect of the inflammation.

However, there can be adverse effects of massive intake of caffeine and consumption of caffeine which may result in some unpleasant symptoms like:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Palpitations
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea

These symptoms are related to the body’s “fight or flight” response. Once this response is triggered too often by caffeine,  it could lead to inflammation and disease. Too much of these can also worsen your depression since it only provides a temporary boost to the nervous system.

What Does Coffee Do For Your Mood?

Coffee has many benefits that can do wonders for your mood. Here are some of them:

  • It helps with alertness. Drinking or consuming 100-200 mg of caffeine can help you with mental alertness.
  • It makes you more positive. Coffee, as per the research by Harvard School of Health, can mimic the feel-good happiness that one might get from a very mild antidepressant. Helps boost your serotonin which is a chemical in our bodies that helps balance the mood and overall outlook.
  • Coffee can make you more ethical. Let’s face it, being tired often leads to bad decision making. However, if you are alert and awake, then you could be more reasonable in making those decisions.

Can Coffee Combat Depression?

Coffee can help with depression. You may notice this when you enter a coffee shop, just the scent alone can make you feel relax and happy, what more when drinking it? There’re many benefits that you can get from drinking coffee, however, like what I’ve said there is no concrete evidence yet if coffee can get rid of depression.

Though there are some factors on how coffee can help with depression, you should not rely on it and use it for self-medication. It’s better to seek the help of professionals for advice on how to manage and treat depression. It is nothing to be embarrassed by, and you should open up to your loved ones or friends if you are battling with depression.


Coffee is a drink that helps us withstand the stress in our daily activities. Always remember though, that we should still take this in moderation. Coffee is not just something that we consume only to help us to stay awake. It is also more of a motivation booster that affects our well-being.



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