Diet Soda And Depression Risk Linked; Coffee Consumption Lowers Risk

By Staff Reporter on January 9, 2013 7:49 AM EST

Diet Coke
Researchers have linked sugary beverages, particularly diet soda, with the increased risk of depression. Coffee consumption present opposite results (Photo: Creative Commons)

What if researchers were to report that the sweet treats intended to make us feel happier actually causes us to be more depressed?

According to a study that was presented to the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, results indicate that sweetened beverages actually cause an increased risk of depression.

The study was conducted by a total of four cups/cans of soda drank daily, which revealed a 30 percent increase in risk of depression. In fact, four daily drinks of fruit punch drank daily can cause the risk of depression to increase by 38 percent. What's more, the results suggested even stronger responses of depression risk when a subject drank diet fruit punch or diet soda.

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National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park researcher Dr. Honglei Chen, M.D., Ph.D., explained, "Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk. More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors."

The sample set of the study involved a total of 263,925 adults, ages 50 to 71. The study was initiated between 1995 and 1996 and was performed through a 10 year period. By the end of the study, 11,311 of the 263,925 subjects, or 4.29 percent, were diagnosed with depression.

Interestingly, the study also revealed that individuals that drink four or more cups of coffee a day possess a 10 percent lower risk of depression versus nondrinkers.

A remarkable finding, researchers are still trying to understand the data collected - it isn't clear whether sugary beverages cause depression or if the individuals suffering depression are more likely to consume more sweets. Likewise, researchers cannot confidently determine whether coffee drinkers are less prone to depression or if those that do not suffer depression are more likely ton drink coffee.

That said, studies conducted at National Institutes of Health align with studies conducted by independent researchers elsewhere. According to health.com in a study published in 2011, caffeinated coffee consumption indicate a decrease in depression risk. Another Australian study suggests a link between daily soda intake and raised levels of psychological distress and depression.

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