Can Caffeine Make you More Depressed?

During January I hit a serious bout of depression, which was at a level that was hugely magnified compared to what I had experienced before.

I had no energy, wanted to stay in bed, and the anxiety was really bad; I was more irritable and would get angry at the smallest thing to a point where I just could not control my emotions, and had to go and hide in the bedroom; I was not interested in food, my motivation to do anything was zero, and I was seriously craving alcohol.

What the hell was going on?

I went to see my GP for our regular appointment and she was not sure what had caused such a drastic change in my condition; I had a couple of ideas of what it could be but nothing solid emerged from our time.

They say that random things happen at random times and this is where apples come into the equation, in particular Pink Lady Apples……

Apples - Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Kim came home from work one day and said she had had a Pink Lady apple and really enjoyed it, so we got some from the supermarket.

The next day I decided to have one of the apples, and found that I started to crave them……

In my blog called ‘Lots of reading to do…..’ I mentioned a book called Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, and how I think everyone should own a copy of this book; well here’s why.

Kim and I have used this book a lot, and it has helped us become more aware of nutrition.  We have numerous examples of how good this book is, but let’s take my example of craving apples, and my super depressed state:

What the book says:

Apples – Benefits low blood sugar conditions and the emotional depression associated with it.

So what could be causing my blood sugar to spike and cause the depression?

There were two things I was having more of that could hold the key, and they were coffee and chocolate.  I was generally having two cups of coffee a day and Kim and I would easily devour a bar of Green & Blacks Velvet Mint Chocolate (it is divine….) between the two of us most nights; well it was just after Christmas!!!

So, what does the book say about these two:

Caffeine Products – When caffeine and similar compounds (eg: theobromine in chocolate) are taken in excess, any of several symptoms usually result: anxiety and nervousness…… and moodiness.  When consumed regularly, as little as two cups of coffee can initiate these symptoms.

Bingo!

I went back to my GP with this and she agreed this sounded likely because coffee and also the sugar in chocolate will spike my blood sugar levels; because I was already in a sensitive state mentally these things had a much bigger impact on me.

I stopped chocolate and I am back on decaf coffee; the change has been almost instantaneous, I promise you, after a couple of days I felt much more alive and able to function better.

Now, I am not going to start shouting about the evils of coffee and chocolate because I believe that most things in moderation are not going to kill you; it is when you have things in excess that the problems start, plus you may be more sensitive to certain things when you are more run down.

I am going to explore various food and drink items individually and see what affects they have on the body, and in particular the mind, but in the mean time, maybe it’s worth being conscious of how much caffeine and sugar you consume on a daily basis.

Maybe look at ways of reducing how much you have, and if you do reduce it if there are any positive effects both physically and mentally.

If you are interested in Healing With Whole Foods here is an Amazon link.


Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

4 thoughts on “Can Caffeine Make you More Depressed?

  • But for me the caffeine is also mood buster without it I feel miserable and I am recovering from depression for over 20 years. You made me think if I should also reduce it or just move to decaf because it does make me nervous and tense jet happy so…I’m a bit confused.

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    • Hi, and thanks for reading. Firstly I am sorry to hear that you have been suffering for so long; from the books I am reading it appears that you can get better, so don’t give up hope.
      I have read various things about caffeine, some say it effects the levels of serotonin, which affects our mood, however this has not been fully proven yet. One thing everyone seems to agree on is that caffeine has a huge affect on our sleep, which in turn affects our mood. In his book ‘The 4 Pillar Plan’, Dr Rangan Chatterjee suggests having caffeine before noon and then stopping; this gives you enough time for the caffeine to have less effect on your sleep. He also says that different people have different levels of tolerance to caffeine, it may be that as you are feeling low anyway it may have a greater affect on you.
      I found this with alcohol; when I was feeling anxious and stressed I would have a drink to relax me, which it did, but as it wore off I felt just as bad, if not worse. In this situation my subconscious associated fighting anxiety with taking a drink, so when I felt bad again I had another drink and the vicious cycle continued; little did I know that it was the alcohol that was actually making me feel worse.
      This may be similar for you with caffeine; maybe you need to find an alternative means of mood busting; I have found exercise has really helped me. I am doing 15 minutes intense exercise a day (Mon-Fri) followed by stretching and meditation (Davina McCall’s ‘Fit in 15’ DVD). Yesterday I had a really bad day, and normally I would have headed for alcohol, but I didn’t, I didn’t even crave it and I can only think that the exercise has helped, and I only started last week!
      I know it is hard to give up things, but decaf coffee has helped me. When I was working I used an organic instant decaf, and now I am at home I got a small filter machine so I still get to enjoy the smell and taste of coffee but without the side-effects. Definitely go for a good quality decaf.
      It may be well worth stopping the caffeine all together and seeing what happens.
      There may be other things you can add/change such as exercise and nutrition.
      I am sure you are and have sought help, so I don’t want to teach you to suck eggs, and I am certainly no expert so I would urge you to find a professional nutritionist or health therapist if you can afford it.
      The best thing is to take it one step at a time and make small changes, one at a time so you can monitor what works for you and what doesn’t. If you make a change write down what it was, and monitor how you feel for a couple of days after.
      Another book I can recommend is ‘How to Control your Anger, Anxiety and Depression Using Nutrition and Physical Exercise’ by Renata Taylor-Byrne and Jim Byrne. They show how important the gut is to mental health, and list caffeine as one of the worst toxicity culprits along with alcohol, processed foods, transfats, sugar and gluten.
      Take care and keep going. I am more than happy to offer support where I can.

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