Coffee, and Your Mental Health: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed drinks in the world. Nescafe says that 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed every year. Australian market research company McCrindle  reported that three in four Australians (75%) enjoy at least one cup of coffee per day, and of those, 28% have three or more cups per day.

The Good

Ruxton (2008) reported that moderate consumption has positive effects on  alertness, mood and perception of fatigue.

In a 2023 study Jiahao Min and colleagues  found that 2–3 cups of ground coffee, milk-coffee, and unsweetened coffee per day was associated with lower risk of depression and anxiety.

In 2014 Xuguang Guo’s research team found that compared to nondrinkers, drinking coffee or tea without any sweetener was associated with a lower risk for depression and that adding artificial sweeteners, but not sugar or honey, was associated with higher risks. Similarly they reported that frequent consumption of sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, may increase depression risk among older adults, whereas coffee consumption may lower the risk.

It’s just great to drink with friends!

The Bad

Brian Distelberg, and colleagues 2017 study of the effects of coffee reported that In a similar way to previous studies the caffeinated group in their study showed consistent decreases in the quality and quantity of sleep. These changes were maintained for as many as 3 days after the treatment (coffee consumption) had ended, and they subsided by the fifth day after the treatment. Specifically, the caffeinated coffee group reduced their quantity of sleep by 10% and their quality of sleep by nearly 40%

They also found that three of the four measures of anxiety in this study showed a significant increase in anxiety during the coffee consumption phase. This negative impact was maintained throughout the entire consumption phase, with some of the anxiety measures’ negative impacts maintaining into the post-consumption phase.

The Ugly

More isn’t better, we may develop tolerance to coffee (Evans, & Griffiths,1992), thus need more.  The possibility of addictive behaviours can occur such as difficulty limiting caffeine consumption and withdrawal symptoms that interfere with normal daily activities (Anderson & Juliano, 2012)

Oh well….


Disappointing as it might be to some, moderation is the key. Coffee can have lots of positives and some negatives. Avoid drinking it after 2 pm to give yourself the best chance of having a good sleep.  Otherwise it could be a great kick start to your day!


Min, J., Cao, Z., Cui, L., Li, F., Lu, Z., Hou, Y., Yang, H., Wang, X., & Xu, C. (2023). The association between coffee consumption and risk of incident depression and anxiety: Exploring the benefits of moderate intake. Psychiatry research, 326, 115307.

Guo X, Park Y, Freedman ND, Sinha R, Hollenbeck AR, Blair A, Chen H. Sweetened beverages, coffee, and tea and depression risk among older US adults. PLoS One. 2014 Apr 17;9(4):e94715.

The Effect of Coffee and Caffeine on Mood, Sleep, and Health-Related Quality of Life

Brian J. Distelberg, Andrea Staack, K’dee D. Elsen, and Joan Sabaté

Journal of Caffeine Research 2017 7:2, 59-70

Evans, S. M., & Griffiths, R. R. (1992). Caffeine tolerance and choice in humans. Psychopharmacology, 108(1-2), 51–59.

Ruxton, C.H.S. (2008), The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks. Nutrition Bulletin, 33: 15-25.

Anderson, B.L., & Juliano, L.M. (2012). Behavior, Sleep, and Problematic Caffeine Consumption in a College-Aged Sample. Journal of caffeine research, 2, 38-44.
Snel, J., & Lorist, M. M. (2011). Effects of caffeine on sleep and cognition. Progress in brain research, 190, 105–117.