Does Creatine Change Your Mood? Analyzing Its Emotional Impacts - Lucid™

Does Creatine Change Your Mood? Analyzing Its Emotional Impacts

Written by: Kat Austin

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Time to read 7 min

Creatine is a popular supplement among athletes, bodybuilders, and those looking to support cognitive function. But many people considering a daily creatine dose may wonder–does creatine change your mood?


The answer is yes, some research-based and anecdotal evidence suggests that creatine can impact your mood. Usually, this manifests as a positive mood boost, but there are some cases where creatine may hurt mood, especially in those with pre-existing psychiatric disorders.


We’re going to dive into the emotional impacts of creatine, supported by scientific research and expert opinions. Then, we’ll talk about some of the risk factors that may actually impact your mood while taking creatine more so than the supplement itself.

Key Takeaways

Creatine's Impact on Mood: Creatine can affect mood, with research suggesting both positive and negative effects, especially in individuals with pre-existing psychiatric conditions.

Cognitive Benefits: Creatine supplementation may improve cognitive functions such as memory and learning capacity, potentially enhancing overall brain health and mood.

Potential Side Effects: While generally safe, creatine can cause side effects like weight gain, digestive issues, dehydration, and mood changes, highlighting the importance of proper dosage and hydration.

What Is Creatine?

Creatine is a compound synthesized in your body by the pancreas and used for energy production in skeletal muscles. About 95% of creatine is stored in your muscles, while the remaining 5% is in your brain.


Many people take creatine supplements to improve strength, increase muscle mass, and enhance performance. However, modern evidence has found that creatine, even when taken in small doses, may have a positive impact on cognition. These nootropic effects may help to increase learning capacity and focus.

How Does Creatine Work?

Creatine works by increasing the amount of phosphocreatine in your muscles. This helps produce more ATP, the energy currency of the body. With more ATP, muscles can work harder and longer. Furthermore, it helps the muscles store water in order to promote rapid recovery.


Creatine also readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, increasing energy consumption in the brain. Understanding how creatine may impact brain health brings forth concerns (and curiosities) about how it may affect mental health and mood.


Let’s dig into the details:

Does Creatine Change Your Mood?

Yes, creatine can impact your mood, though researchers don’t fully understand the extent of this effect or how it can be applied to a medical setting. Still, it’s important to consider that creatine has been found to have both negative and positive effects on mood, especially in those with pre-existing psychiatric disorders.


Several studies have explored the connection between creatine and mood. Let’s take a look at some of the key points and the research available to support the use of creatine for mood enhancement:

Creatine and Depression

Does creatine change your mood if you are dealing with depression? Some research suggests that creatine might help with mental health conditions like depression. For example, a study found that women with major depressive disorder who took creatine saw improvements in their symptoms.


This small, 8-week study , evaluated 39 women who successfully completed the trial. The subjects were divided into two groups–one treated with the antidepressant Lexapro, an SSRI, and creatine, the other treated with Lexapro and a placebo.


At the two week mark, the group taking creatine experienced a 32 percent improvement in depression symptoms while the control group reported a 3.7% improvement. At the four week mark, those improvement rates rose to 68 percent for the creatine group and 29 percent for the control group.


While the evidence is still limited and therefore inconclusive, there's good reason to believe that creatine could have a place in the future of psychiatric treatments for depression.

Creatine may help increase brain energy metabolism, which can improve brain function and possibly enhance mood. However, creatine is not recommended for individuals with conditions like psychosis or schizophrenia, as it may affect dopamine levels and exacerbate symptoms.

Creatine and Anxiety

When asking, does creatine change your mood in terms of anxiety, the answer is less clear. Some studies suggest creatine might reduce anxiety, while others find no significant effects. More research is needed to fully understand this relationship. Dehydration caused by creatine could potentially increase anxiety symptoms due to reduced blood flow and oxygen delivery to brain cells.

Creatine and Cognitive Function

Creatine is not just for muscles; it may also support brain health. Studies show that creatine can improve cognitive functions like memory and intelligence. Better cognitive function can lead to a better mood.


Creatine phosphate (CP) in the brain might improve cognition and memory but can have side effects, such as impacting serotonin production, which regulates mood, appetite, sleep, memory, and learning.


There are several ways in which creatine affects brain health that may also impact mood, including:


  • Creatine’s Impact on Neurotransmitter Function: Creatine may affect the production of brain neurotransmitters, which are chemical compounds produced in your brain that influence neurological and hormonal activities.

  • Dopamine Impact: Dopamine, responsible for feelings of motivation and pleasure, may be affected by creatine. Lowered levels of dopamine might increase symptoms of depression. There is some evidence to suggest that creatine may actually increase dopamine levels in the brain.

  • Serotonin Impact: Creatine may affect the production of serotonin, a compound in your brain that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. Excessive creatine might suppress serotonin production, leading to symptoms associated with low serotonin levels, such as weight gain, reduced insulin secretion, and diminished learning.

Possible Negative Impact of Creatine on Mood

Yes, creatine can affect mood, and although there may be many benefits associated with creatine’s mood impact, there’s also the possibility of negative interactions.


Some human trials have found that creatine supplementation can cause negative mood changes or anxiety. For instance, a 2007 study reported that two patients with bipolar disorder who took 3–5 grams of creatine daily experienced hypomania or mania.


Additionally, a 2020 study found a negative association between dietary creatine and depression in adults, particularly among women, individuals aged 20–39, and those not taking antidepressants or anxiolytics.

Other Potential Side Effects of Creatine

While creatine is generally safe, it can have side effects. Whether you’re taking creatine to help manage mood or trying to remain weary of the mood-altering side effects, it is essential to understand what other side effects to look out for.


Most creatine side effects are mild and harmless. The most common may include:


  • Weight Gain: Creatine can cause mild weight gain due to water retention in muscles. This weight gain is not fat but can still impact how you feel about your body.

  • Digestive Issues: Some people experience stomach discomfort or diarrhea when taking creatine. Starting with a lower dose can help minimize these effects.

  • Dehydration: Creatine pulls water into your muscles, so you need to drink more fluids. Staying hydrated is crucial to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can affect your brain by reducing blood flow and oxygen delivery to brain cells, causing feelings of faintness, lightheadedness, and potentially increasing anxiety. You are especially at risk if you take creatine with caffeine

  • Medication Interactions: Creatine may interact with certain medications, so it’s crucial to talk to your doctor before mixing supplements and prescriptions.

  • Sleep Disturbances: Research hasn’t established a link between creatine and poor sleep quality, and many anecdotal reports indicate that creatine does not negatively impact sleep. Still, some people have experienced sleep disturbances when taking creatine too close to bedtime.

  • Liver or Kidney Stress: While creatine is thought to be safe for those with a healthy liver and kidneys, it may not be suitable for anyone with kidney or liver dysfunction.

How to Take Creatine Safely

To get the most out of creatine without negative effects, follow these tips:


  • Start with a Low Dose: Begin with 3-5 grams per day to let your body adjust gradually.

  • Stay Hydrated : Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration.

  • Monitor Your Body: Pay attention to any changes in mood or physical condition and adjust your intake if necessary.

  • Follow Recommended Dosages: Stick to the guidelines provided by the supplement manufacturer or your healthcare provider.

  • Cycle Your Usage: Consider taking creatine in cycles, such as using it for a few months and then taking a break, to prevent long-term dependence or tolerance.

  • Maintain a Balanced Diet: Ensure your diet includes adequate nutrients to support overall health and enhance the effects of creatine.

  • Consult a Professional: Speak with a healthcare provider before starting creatine, especially if you have existing health conditions or are taking other medications.


By adhering to these guidelines, you can effectively utilize creatine while minimizing potential negative impacts on your mood and overall health.

Conclusion: Does Creatine Change Your Mood?

So, does creatine change your mood? It can, especially if you have depression or are looking to boost brain function. However, responses can vary, and more research is needed to fully understand its effects on mood. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement.


By understanding how creatine works and its potential benefits and side effects, you can make an informed decision about whether it's right for you. Remember, what's most important is finding a balanced approach that supports both your physical and mental health.




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References


  1. “A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial of Oral Creatine Monohydrate Augmentation for Enhanced Response to a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor in Women With Major Depressive Disorder” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4624319/

  2. “Creatine metabolism and psychiatric disorders: Does creatine supplementation have therapeutic value?” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3340488/

  3. “Dietary creatine intake and depression risk among U.S. adults” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7026167/#:~:text=Dietary%20creatine%27s%20negative%20association%20with,CI%3A%200.43%E2%80%930.77 ).