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Some of caffeine’s powers over mood explained, at least in mice

New research may help explain why caffeine intake is inversely associated with mood disorders like depression.

Scientists may be coming close to figuring out exactly how caffeine reduces stress. Yeah, reduces it. We’re not talking about the twitching-with-anxiety jitters some experience after chugging an energy drink on an empty stomach, but rather the epidemiological studies that have found an inverse relationship between caffeine intake and stress and depression.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and noted on, is the first to uncover the means by which chronic stress contributes to stress disorders.

The researchers conducted several experiments with mice, giving them a caffeinated beverage, putting them in stressful situations and measuring how they responded compared with mice who underwent the same stress without have consumed caffeine. (What stresses mice out? Damp bedding, shared living space, food and water deprivation, cold baths and cages tilted at 45 degrees.)

Caffeine is known to inhibit receptors in the brain for the chemical adenosine. Through these experiments, the researchers found that the receptors also control the negative effects of chronic stress, and that stress-induced behavior can be reversed by blocking the receptors, according to the post on Medicalxpress.

Mouse brains and human brains are so different that the scientists admit that these findings can’t be used to prove caffeine reduces stress the same way in people. They write, however, that they believe research will prove that it does.

Research is slowly revealing the specifics of caffeine’s interaction with our mind. Last year, a Johns Hopkins study suggested caffeine helps with long term memory.

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