Women who regularly consume coffee are less likely to suffer from depression, according to a new study.

The research found that women who had two to three cups of coffee a day had about a 15% lower risk of developing depression during a 10-year period than women who had only one cup of coffee or less per week. When the consumption increased to four or more cups a day the risk of depression was reduced by 20%.

“A small amount of coffee may keep you more active and more happy, and that may result in the long run in better brain health,” said Dr. Alberto Ascherio, the senior author of the study.

The research was conducted by Harvard University researchers, who analyzed health data of more than 50,000 women who were part of the Nurses' Health Study.

“There’s no reason, from what we know, for people to cut back on their coffee consumption, unless, of course, it makes them feel bad,” said Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

Caffeine is regarded as the most widely used central nervous system stimulant in the world, with about 80% of consumption in the form of coffee, the researchers noted.

Caffeine consumption was measured by Ascherio and colleagues using validated questionnaires during the period from May 1, 1980, through April 1, 2004, and computed cumulative average consumption with a two-year latency period.

The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study, which was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is considered to be the first attempt to analyze the relation between coffee and depression.

Depression is a chronic health problem that affects twice as many women as men.