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Caffine helping depression

I've suffered with severe depression off-and-on for 20 years (I'm 35/male). I've been put on SSRIs (also effexor xr for a while, which technically isn't just an ssri) with little effect, besides bad side effects. I've given up on drug treatment and I don't even discuss my problems with the doctor any more because I don't want to try any more miserable expensive drugs, and I can't afford talk-therapy (my insurance is catastrophic only, and I only have the money I put in my HSA for doctor care).

I've not been a big caffeine consumer until recently. I've only had occasional small doses of caffine from a single cup of coffee or a diet coke or cup of tea (50-100mg of caffine). A friend of mine opened a coffee shop and I have spent some time there. Strong coffee drinks seem to be eliminating my depression symptoms. At first I only noticed that souped-up coffee drinks made me think more clearly. When I say souped up, I'm talking about double, triple, or quad espresso shots, 200-400mg caffeine in a serving. A single cup of drip coffee, tea, or soda doesn't do much. When buzzing on the strong coffee drinks, I'm more focused and don't become frustrated as easily. I'm far more adept at tasks and social interaction. I'm less emotionally charged (sometimes I can be emotionally charged in a bad way: sadness frustration). It isn't everyday that I drink these beverages, and as a consequence I have noticed the drastic difference in my state of mind with and without them.

If I have a triple or quad shot espresso drink in the morning, I sleep better at night too. Without the caffeine, I sleep almost on command, yet still wake up very tired even with 8 hours sleep. If I had strong coffee the previous day, I wake more easily and feel more rested the following day.

I tried drinking three red bulls last week and it worked just as well as coffee.

Another positive symptom:
for the last two years I've been having joint pain that has progressively gotten worse. It started in my hip but has progressed to my knees, shoulders, and elbows. I can't really do heavy lifting exercises any longer because of elbow and shoulder pain. I talked to my doctor about it when it began and we both attributed it to my running (I used to run about 10 miles per week, but stopped once the pain began). My doc referred me to a physical therapist but that costs over $200 per session and I just can't afford it. I researched the PT online and it looks like it's just strength training and stretching, which I was doing regularly anyhow before the joint problems. I have no joint swelling or symptoms that resemble arthritis based on my online reading. The joint pain comes when i am stationary for 10-15 minutes and can be "worked out" fairly quickly as long as I don't bear a lot of weight (heavy lifting or high impact).

Anyhow, the coffee drinks seem to help with the joint pain too.

This isn't all in my head. Without coffee my body is very stiff and painful when I wake up in the morning. A long car ride or long sit in a chair watching a film means my knees will be very sore for a minute or so. Even a long phone call where I hold the receiver to my head for 15 mins can make my shoulder and elbow hurt, but when I'm buzzing on coffee, I notice no pain.

My depression started getting much worse when the joint pain started. I attributed it to being extra-sad because I don't spend nearly as much time outdoors. I gained over 50 pounds in 18 months when I stopped running and the anti-depression drugs the doc prescribed made me feel worse rather than better. I also felt very hopeless when I couldn't afford the PT that the doc recommended.

Could my state of mind and my joint pain be related somehow? This last almost-two-year depression battle isn't my first. I've had bouts of debilitating depression many other times in my life, and depression runs in my family (both my mother and grandmother).

How could coffee make depression better? I've always read that it makes it worse.

I'm really pleased with my renewed state of mind and don't mind spending $5 every morning to get my life back. I'm not going to argue with the first thing to really help me in what feels like ages

I'm curious if I'm treating a symptom. Is there some condition or disease that can have the mental and physical effects that I've been experiencing that can be helped or masked my a stimulant like caffeine?

Are my positive effects going to go away once my body is used to the large doses of caffeine?

Is it dangerous to take this much caffeine?

Any help or advice is greatly appreciated

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replied July 24th, 2008
I'm a bit like you. Caffeine seems to perk me up also. I have a 2 yr old and am not working at the moment and getting pretty down and irratable with my son. but if I have cafe coffees I'm okay. It's strange but true...
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replied September 25th, 2008
The only thing that I can say is that you get this effect because caffeine can cause addiction - a great explanation I found on this website is here:

"Stimulates the cortex of your brain heightening the intensity of mental activity. This can result in a temporary feeling of alertness and, in the short term, banishes drowsiness and feelings of fatigue. In those who already have high levels of anxiety the heightened intensity of mental activity can produce unpleasant effects. "

Ask if you want more info from a guy that has been able to quit caffeine luckily...
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replied October 17th, 2008
i am totally addicted to coffee. I have been drinking it religiously since I was about 11 years old. My dad made strong coffee for everybody in the morning. Over the years I noticed that I would fall into a strong depression if I did not drink coffee. The coffe made my nerves on edge. if I do not drink it I start to look ten or more years younger.

I am helplessly addicted. The longest I was off it was for seven months a year ago. I craved a cup and started again and now I can't get off it. I quit drinking it nine days ago, but am relapsing today due to an overwhelming craving and a need to sleep.

I have found though that if you buy GREEN coffee beans and roast them in the oven and grind them you can get the most antioxidants from the coffee bean. So, at least there will be some benefit providing you do not put too much sugar in your coffee.
You can buy green coffee beans at speciality store. In Toronto, Canada, I get my green coffee beans at the GREENBEANERY Store.
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replied October 19th, 2008
Hey criss888,
thanks a lot for your input.

Honestly, I still have to throw my 2 cents in here. Coffee addiction is a very bad thing. In my personal experience as a person that also suffered strong withdrawal symptoms (but I wasn't addicted for a long time as you have...), it was the easiest and best thing to do to gradually reduce my daily dose.

I still suffered from withdrawal symptoms but it was not as horrible as people told me it would be. I don't think that cold turkey is the way, but I also do not really believe that drinking "healthier coffee" is the solution.

I have personally switched to green and white tea, they still contain a bit caffeine, but it does not have as immediate and strong effects on the body like coffee does. And on top of that you get a whole lot of vitamines, and polyphenoles with it that have antioxidative effects for your body.

Good luck!
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