What does this rating mean?
Caffeine is a stimulant drug found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, cola drinks and many other soft drinks. Cutting out caffeine from your diet has been proposed to help depression in some cases.
Some people are thought to have a sensitivity to caffeine which may impact their mood. Caffeine may also increase feelings of anxiety in some people, due to its stimulant effects. Because depression and anxiety often occur together, cutting out caffeine may help some people with depression by lowering their associated anxiety.
There is very little scientific evidence on caffeine avoidance as a treatment for people who have been diagnosed with depression.
In the general population, there is a link between caffeine consumption and mood. Several studies have found that moderate consumption of caffeine is linked to a lower risk of depression in adults. In children however, greater consumption of caffeine has been linked to more symptoms of depression. It is important to remember that while there may be a link between caffeine and mood, this does not mean that it is a causal link – drinking less or more caffeine does not necessarily cause depression. There may be some other underlying factor that can explain this link, and caffeine might affect different people in different ways.
For people who regularly consume caffeine, suddenly giving it up can produce withdrawal effects, such as headaches and feeling less alert.
Cutting down on coffee, tea and soft drinks is a simple treatment people can do by themselves. If you are concerned about your caffeine consumption, or feel that drinking caffeine could be making you feel anxious, you can discuss this with your GP.
Given the lack of evidence on caffeine avoidance, it cannot be recommended as a treatment for depression.
Last updated and reviewed: 1 November 2019