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Creatine For Depression & Bipolar Disorder: 5g Daily Supplementation

Most people that lift weights know that creatine helps give people an extra pump to their muscles after consistent supplementation. Typically it takes about 4-5 weeks of supplementing 5 grams per day to experience a noticeable effect on the body. But could creatine also have beneficial effects on the brain and mood? Some studies suggest that it may help people ward off cases of depression. It should be noted that most studies involving creatine monohydrate for depression have very few participants, but research with this supplement in cases of depression is gaining popularity.

Creatine Monohydrate for Depression

Studies have shown that creatine monohydrate can reduce depressive symptoms in cases of treatment-resistant depression. This suggests that it may be beneficial to classify creatine among antidepressant augmentation strategies. Researchers think that creatine supplementation may help modify high-energy phosphate metabolism in individuals with depression.

2007 Preliminary study: Creatine monohydrate for depression

In one small scale (2007) study, eight individuals with standard depression and two individuals with bipolar treatment-resistant depression were given 3-5 g/day of creatine monohydrate. They were given this amount for four weeks and their mood was measured with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Hamilton Anxiety Scale, and Clinical Impression scores. Their moods were reported before the supplementation as well as after each week. All scores improved significantly and there were no major adverse effects from supplementation.

2012 Study: Creatine for women with an SSRI antidepressant

Additionally, creatine augmentation with an SSRI antidepressant may be more effective than an antidepressant alone. In a Korean (2012) study involving 52 female patients diagnosed with major depression, each woman received Lexapro (escitalopram) – a common SSRI medication. Researchers then supplemented half of the women with 5 grams of creatine, while giving the other half a placebo pill.

By the second week, the women taking the creatine supplements had a much better antidepressant effect than those receiving the placebo. Their rating scores showed that they were no longer clinically depressed – whereas the placebo group still was dealing with depression. Researchers noted that improvements continued throughout the 8 week testing period. All major side effects were noted to be a result of the SSRI medication.

Benefits of creatine for the body and brain

Creatine is documented as helping with neurological conditions such as muscular dystrophy. It is also utilized by many athletes to help improve performance and muscle strength. It also reduces damage on our genetics, prevents toxins from damaging our nerve cells, and stops fats from oxidizing in our blood. Overall, this supplement is considered healthy for our body and tends to have a minimal side effect profile.

Most people hypothesize that creatine helps increase the amount of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in the brain, which may make the brain less susceptible to experiencing depression. For this reason, people may want to consider it and test out to see whether they are able to notice improvements in mental health.

If people are already taking an antidepressant, it is hypothesized that creatine supplementation may help improve their mood quicker. Although more research is needed, there is already some that would lead us to believe that creatine augmentation would be beneficial in improving mental health.

Creatine for Bipolar Disorder: May Induce Hypomania / Mania

If you are someone with bipolar disorder, it should be noted that researchers have seen that it may be linked to triggering a manic or hypomanic switch. In other words, individuals that have bipolar depression may start taking creatine and notice that it flips them into an over-the-top good mood. For this reason, it is suggested to proceed with caution if you are bipolar and are considering creatine supplementation.

Does creatine help men with depression?

There is less evidence supporting creatine for depression in men compared to supplementing creatine in women. For this reason, it is suspected that women using this supplement may have better antidepressant effects than men. There is still more research that needs to be conducted regarding creatine supplementation for mental illness.

Creatine Monohydrate: Safety Concerns

Despite the fact that creatine is considered very safe, individuals with kidney issues or high blood pressure should consult a medical professional before supplementation. Most people don’t experience any negative side effects from creatine, but if you are experiencing side effects, from this supplement, it is advised to discontinue usage.

Additional research is needed…

Most of the preliminary studies show that it may be worthwhile to try out – especially since there are minimal side effects. Obviously more larger scale studies need to be conducted before we can conclude whether creatine has an antidepressant effect. The majority of current studies have very few participants – larger studies must be conducted to increase confidence that this supplement has a statistically significant effect.  The University of Utah has several studies related to creatine and depression in the works.

References List:

  1. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17988366
  2. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22864465
  3. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10802796

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Glinda Bustamante October 29, 2014, 3:07 pm

    Wow, this is amazing. I have been diagnosed with both depression and bipolar 1 many years ago. I have found zero relief from SSRI meds and have been off meds for over a year now due to bad side effects. Yesterday I tried kre alkalyn for the first time ever after my husband purchased it at GNC to help us with our workouts. Within an hour I felt amazing, I was dancing all around the place and smiling, laughing with the kids. I ran all around our house playing and did 60 reps on my stationary bowflex.

    It was super easy. I thought I was imagining the effects lol so I googled “creatine improves mood” kind of just testing the waters to see what would come up and I have to say that I actually was right for once lol. I will keep taking it and see what happens next. I am a 30 yr. old female by the way. Thanks for this article I will show it to my husband later so he can see why I was so happy last night lol.

  • Isabel Younes December 25, 2014, 1:28 pm

    I also take creatine for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and perimenopause. Not to mention for working out. It relieved all the symptoms above and gave me a lift in energy levels. I thank God with all my heart for getting informed of this natural supplement. Keep well…

  • James B December 29, 2014, 2:08 am

    Creatine has the opposite effect with me. It makes my mood and rumination substantially worse. Although I might be in the minority on this response, I’ve found that there is quite a bit of discussion on fitness/bodybuilding forums about this so apparently I’m not alone on this negative response.

    • Jay Cee March 13, 2016, 6:05 am

      I have the same problem. In the short time since I started taking it my depression and anxiety has increased considerably. Stopped taking it for now.

  • Jacob July 26, 2015, 12:28 am

    I just wanted to say that creatine monohydrate works great for depression and it worked for me.

  • Gary September 11, 2015, 3:17 pm

    I’m suffering from light depression and creatine seems to improve my mood.

  • Tim Bailey February 29, 2016, 8:25 pm

    Hi, I have regularly trained with kettlebells or free weights as a way of building confidence to fight my depression. I started using protein shakes to help recovery and replace breakfast which I always missed. It wasn’t until I noticed my mood change whenever I stopped taking them that I discovered the link between depression and creatine. The all-in-one shake I was using had creatine in the mix and was keeping me balanced. I’m now 40 this year and would recommend anyone to consider it and I can’t believe the difference it makes to my day to day life. Tim

  • Jay Cee March 13, 2016, 6:03 am

    I found this article looking for info on the exact opposite of what is written here. I’m no doctor or scientist, so I dunno for sure. But creatine really seems to throw me into a bout of anxiety and depression. I actually just started taking it a week ago after my workouts (3-5 grams mixed into juice). And I noticed something felt funny almost immediately, but continued taking it daily.

    After the passed 2 days I am convinced Creatine causes a psychological problem within me. My heart races and mind race, I feel horribly down for seemingly no reason. And I have always drank a ton of water throughout my days, so I don’t think that was the problem. No idea… I’m rambling. Point is, creatine seems to cause problems for me. I’m going to stop taking it and hopefully I smooth out.

    • GLOOM March 14, 2016, 12:50 am

      Smart decision to discontinue and thanks for sharing your experience. With any substance, just because some evidence suggests “it may be helpful” or effective does NOT mean it is helpful for everyone. Each person is unique – genetically, epigentically, etc. and as a result, some people may not derive any benefit from creatine in terms of mood enhancement.

      What works brilliantly for one person may be a disaster for another. These findings are commonly encountered with other supplements and prescriptions that are “generally helpful,” but a subset of individuals derive zero benefit, or exhibit an exacerbation of problematic symptoms. Even in the case of prescription antidepressants, the pharmacological cocktail ideally suited for one person may yield deleterious outcomes for another.

      Always listen to yourself (signals/feedback from your body) and don’t try to convince yourself to “continue” an intervention just because some evidence, a friend, or even robust science suggests that it should work. Best.

  • JRBecker August 30, 2016, 2:28 pm

    I’m a male and I concur with many of the other guys on here that creatine supplementation made my depression and rumination substantially worse. Not surprisingly, the research about using creatine as an antidepressant only has evidence in working for females, not males. In males, emperical data in animals shows creatine has deleterious effects.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091305714003529

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4641570/

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26457568

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22864465

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