Diet Drinks and Depression

Diet Drinks and Depression

By: Lauren Weber, DO • Posted on January 15, 2013


In early January of 2013, there was a report released on HealthDay News, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NIH), about a study that the NIH has been conducting over the last decade regarding diet drink consumption and its effect on mood. The study consisted of more than 260,000 individuals aged 50 to 71 and their beverage intake over one year. Over a decade later, the same participants were asked if they had ever been diagnosed with depression. The information that has been collected shows that there is a possible link between artificially sweetened drinks and an increase in the risk for depression.

Slightly more than four percent (about 11,000 participants) reported they had been diagnosed with depression. In general, people who consumed the most aspartame-sweetened diet beverages had a higher depression risk. Those who drank at least four cans or cups of diet soda or diet fruit punch a day were about 30-40 percent more likely to report depression than non-diet soda and non-diet fruit punch drinkers. There was a slight increased risk of developing depression in regular soda drinkers as well.

In contrast, people who had four or more cups of coffee a day had about a 10 percent lower risk of depression versus non-coffee drinkers. So this may not be related to caffeine.

So, what does all of this mean? We need to analyze the data further. There are other factors that could contribute to depression. Two of the main ones are:

  1. Diabetes
  2. Obesity

People who are obese, diabetic, or possibly both may favor diet drinks to help control their weight or blood sugar by not consuming the calories of sugar.

Regardless of the fact that the results are preliminary, reaching for a glass of water or milk instead of hydrating with a diet caffeinated beverage will likely do you more benefit than harm. Calcium and vitamin D are mood elevators and it is possible that high soda ingestion is linked to lower calcium and vitamin D intake.

If you have depressed moods, be sure to see your physician for evaluation and treatment. Remember to pass on the extra glass of soda!

By Lauren Weber, DO
Women's Health Specialist and Family Practice
Center for Women's Health, A NorthBay Affiliate


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