Thursday, September 8, 2011

Is Caffeine Consumption Linked to Pediatric Depression?

Do depressed children self-medicate with soda? A group of researchers in Brazil have reported data that suggest that depressed children consume more caffeine than nondepressed children, primarily in the form of sugary soft drinks. They looked at 51 children aged 9 to 12 who were assessed for depressive symptoms with the Children's Depression Inventory and whose eating habits were assessed with the Nutrition-Behavior Inventory. The children were compared with control children who did not have psychopathology in a Brazilian city.

“We cannot determine whether the high consumption of caffeine in our study population was actually ‘causing’ depression or if high consumption was used to relieve some symptoms of depression,” the researchers wrote in their report, published online August 25 in BMC Pediatrics. “It is possible that children meeting diagnostic criteria for major depression use caffeine to ‘self-medicate’ to ease the symptoms associated with depression.”

Depression in children can also be closely related to symptoms of depression in their mothers. Learn more about this complex interaction in Psychiatric News at Also read much more about childhood depression in American Psychiatric Publishing's Concise Guide to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Fourth Edition. Ordering information is available at

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