A new study has found that people who drink two to three cups of coffee daily are less likely to experience anxiety or depression, in comparison to those who consume more or less quantities of this widely popular beverage.

Previous research findings have shed light on a variety of potential health benefits associated with moderate coffee intake, including lower risks of Type 2 diabetes, chronic liver disease, stroke, and cancer. Building upon this, the researchers aimed to explore the potential connection between coffee consumption and common mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

The study, published in the journal Psychiatry Research, also tried to find out if these associations differed depending on the type of coffee people drank (like instant, ground, or decaffeinated coffee) or if they used additives in their coffee (like milk, sugar, or artificial sweeteners).

According to the CDC, approximately 5% of adults in the United States often deal with feelings of depression, while nearly 13% experience regular sensations of worry, nervousness, or anxiety.

The research findings indicated that individuals who consumed fewer than two to three cups of coffee daily showed a decreased risk of developing depression and anxiety. However, the risk was observed to be the lowest among those who consumed two to three cups daily. But, for each additional cup of coffee consumed beyond three per day, the risk of both mental health disorders increased.

Researchers analyzed data from a total of 146,566 people (63,860 men and 82,796 women) from the United Kingdom, who answered questions about their mental health and coffee drinking habits between 2006 and 2010. The average age of people who participated in the study was 56.

In 2016, the participants answered questions from two mental health questionnaires commonly used for diagnosing anxiety and depression, known as the PHQ-9 and the GAD-7. The questionnaires included inquiries about the frequency of experiences, such as uncontrollable worrying, feelings of self-doubt, or a diminished interest in activities.

The questionnaire included queries like how often in the past two weeks a person has:

  • Been bothered by not being able to control worrying?
  • Been feeling bad about yourself – or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down?
  • Had little interest or pleasure in doing things?

Among the participants, 118,352 people (80.7%) reported being coffee consumers and 28,304 (19.3%) were non-coffee consumers. Meanwhile, 48,818 (41.2%) participants reported consuming two to three cups of coffee per day, accounting for the most frequently reported daily coffee intake. Whereas, 41,549 (28.3%) participants reported drinking one cup per day. The results were similar for participants who drank 2–3 cups of ground coffee, milk-coffee, or unsweetened coffee.

This research emphasized the potential benefits of moderate coffee intake in promoting mental well-being as part of a holistic approach to health.

"Our findings support the recommendation that moderate coffee consumption could be part of a healthy lifestyle to prevent and manage depression and anxiety in the general population," the authors of the study concluded.