Yukta Kulkarni ’22
Coffee, specifically the consumption of caffeine, is prevalent across the world. When studying the effects of caffeine on psychological disorders, previous studies have led to inconclusive results. However, most of the research has been completed in Western and first-world countries. Since there are differences in culture and nutrition in varying regions, it is important to see the effects of caffeine in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East. Thus, S. Nouri-Majd and their team of researchers sought to determine if there is an association between caffeine consumption and psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression in Iranian adults.
The researchers tested the association by acquiring 3,362 adults working in fifty different healthcare centers in Isfahan, a city in Iran. All the participants completed a semi-quantitative FFQ to determine caffeine intake based on the food they ate containing caffeine and how many cups of coffee they would drink per day. To determine levels of anxiety and depression, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) (Iranian version) was utilized. After controlling for confounding variables such as previous conditions, smoking status, and use of supplements, it was found that those who consumed coffee on a weekly basis had significantly lower rates of depression and anxiety symptoms compared to those who consumed caffeine. However, there was no correlation between caffeine intake and depression/anxiety symptoms. Additionally, there were no associations between coffee/caffeine intake and mental health problems between genders.
As one of the most widely consumed drugs, the effect of caffeine is important to study. Even though it is a substantially researched topic, there is much more to uncover. Specifically, it would be interesting to further focus on why coffee intake was associated with lower anxiety and depression symptoms while caffeine intake had no correlations. For example, it could be due to positive associations with coffee or a placebo effect. Since this study had a large sample size, the results can be seen as statistically significant for Iranian adults. However, it is only valid for healthcare workers as they comprised the participants.
 S. Nouri-Majd, et al., Coffee and caffeine intake in relation to symptoms of psychological disorders among adults. Public Health Nutrition, 1-11 (2022). doi: 10.1017/S1368980022000271
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