A new study that is to be presented at the 65th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in March in San Diego has found that diet drinks that have been sweetened are linked to an increased risk of drinkers suffering from depression. The study also shows that drinking coffee slightly lowers those risks.

“Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical — and may have important mental — health consequences,” says the study’s lead researcher, Honglei Chen of the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

For this study, Chen and colleagues monitored data collected that outlined the consumption of different beverages from 263,925 people ages 50 to 71 in 1995 to 1996. Of the beverages scrutinized, researchers included soda, tea, coffee and sweetened fruit drinks. After a 10-year time period, the researchers again questioned participants to see if they had been diagnosed with depression at all since the year 2000. Of those asked, 11,311 stated that they had. Researchers then compared that information to the information on drink consumption and found that participants who drank over 4 cups of diet or sweetened diet soda daily were as much as 30 percent more likely to become depressed in comparison to those who didn’t drink the beverages.

Depression is a common condition that is often treated with dangerous antidepressant medications, including Paxil. Research has shown that the serious side effects linked to Paxil can be dangerous for both the patients and the people around them — including their unborn offspring. Paxil has been linked to violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior as well as birth defects (spina bifida, PPHN, oral clefts, neural tube defects) in babies whose mothers take the drug during pregnancy. This study may help prevent some patients from developing depression just by quitting with these types of drinks.