Creatine supplementation has a reputation for building stronger muscles when taken pre-workout. However, recent findings show that creatine intake might affect major depressive disorder. But how and in what ways?
In this article, we’ll introduce you to creatine and how it works in the body. In addition, we’ll provide an introduction to major depressive disorder and how creatine provides some positive implications for depression severity. Finding ways to counteract mental illness ensures people receive help before major depression causes more significant issues.
An Explanation of Creatine
While people may be familiar with creatine supplementation, it’s essential to understand that creatine naturally occurs in the body. It is an amino acid found in muscles and the brain. It forms in the liver and kidneys from other amino acids. Creatine works by increasing energy in muscles during high-intensity exercise or heavy lifting. Also found in the brain, studies show that it increases brain energy metabolism and provides better cognition.
Creatine naturally occurs in the body, but around 50% of a person’s creatine levels result from food consumed. Foods like red meat and seafood contain high levels of creatine. For example, one pound of red meat or salmon has anywhere from 1-2 grams of creatine. The average person must consume around 1-3 grams of creatine daily for maximum benefits. Some studies reveal creatine absorption is best when combined with carbohydrates and proteins.
Creatine Supplementation and How It Works
Creatine is a popular exercise supplement taken by athletes and bodybuilders everywhere. But what is the reason? Creatine is one of the most tested fitness supplements in the world. Years of studies prove creatine is safe and increases performance, strength, and endurance. The side effects of creatine are minimal, with some having digestive issues.
95% of the creatine in the body is in muscles, and 5% is in the brain. It is in a form called phosphocreatine. This creatine, located in the cells of muscles, increases energy by escalating the production of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). The energy molecule ATP creates more muscle strength, causing better overall fitness performance.
Creatine monohydrate is the most common form of creatine supplementation. Adding oral creatine monohydrate augmentation to your diet increases ATP, resulting in muscle growth. In addition to muscle mass, increasing creatine intake via a specific creatine group elicits better muscle strength and aids recovery. It’s not surprising athletes everywhere supplement with creatine.
What is Major Depressive Disorder?
Major depressive disorder or depression is a mood disorder caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s a severe form of depression, also known as clinical depression. It results in intense sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. Physical symptoms like weight loss or gain or insomnia are often a result. Statistics show that over 280 million people worldwide suffer from major depression.
Major depressive disorder results from trauma, the death of loved ones, high-stress environments, or a family history of depression. For this type of depression severity, treatment options range from therapy to antidepressant drugs like Zoloft or Paxil.
Creatine vs. Depression
Now that we understand more about creatine and major depression, let’s discuss how your creatine supplementation affects this disorder.
Since research has shown that creatine is in the brain, researchers believe creatine might have antidepressant drug effects. An example is an eight-week study on women in South Korea with major depressive disorder. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial examined how oral creatine monohydrate augmentation boosted the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in these women. The results showed that the women in the creatine group improved drastically from their depressive symptoms.
Chronic creatine supplementation increases the ATP energy within the brain, similar to how it increases muscle energy. While the research is still in the early stages, several studies suggest creatine helps with major depressive disorder, especially when combined with antidepressant medications.
Is creatine good for mental health?
One study showed that oral creatine consumption helped short-term memory and reasoning in healthy people. In addition, some hypothesize that increased creatine supplementation increases ATP energy within the brain, negating depression-like behavior.
Can creatine intake affect your mood?
The research on creatine affecting mood is limited. There isn’t enough evidence to suggest creatine impacts mood or mood swings.
Does creatine influence antidepressant drugs?
Certain studies have shown that creatine, when combined with antidepressant drugs, increases the effects and lowers depressive symptoms. In one study, patients who received the antidepressant, Escitalopram (brand name Lexapro) and creatine supplementation significantly improved their depressive symptoms. The combination may help to reduce major depression severity for many people who suffer from it.
Final Thoughts on Creatine and Depression
When it comes to creatine supplementation, there is no doubt it helps increase energy throughout muscles, increasing strength and endurance. Another positive outcome of creatine monohydrate is its effect on major depression. Whether you take a creatine monohydrate or micronized creatine, a form of creatine more soluble in water or milk, adding more creatine to your diet could decrease depression symptoms. If you experience depression or have been diagnosed with clinical depression, asking your doctor about adding a creatine supplementation might be what you need to increase your mental health and start feeling better.
Kristen holds a bachelors in English from Louisianna university. With a longstanding passion for fitness, she owns and operate her own gym and is a certified jazzercise instructor.