Updated: Oct 12
Although creatine is one of the safest supplements you can take, it has been linked to a variety of adverse effects, including weight gain, anxiety, trouble breathing, and tiredness.
So yes, creatine does have the ability to cause anxiety. A supplement called l-theanine may be able to reduce the anxiety caused by creatine.
In this article, I'll look at who creatine causes anxiety in and how to reduce it.
Table of Contents:
An Adverse Effect on Mood & Anxiety in Those at Risk
The first human study found that two individuals felt more aggressive and anxious after one week of creatine supplementation (25 g/day) in a clinical study evaluating the efficacy of creatine to improve resistance training. (2)
The second human study reported that two individuals diagnosed with bipolar illness showed hypomania or mania after daily supplementation with 3-5 g creatine. (1)
Greater depression-like behaviour in male rats fed with 4% creatine for five weeks was found in the animal study, but this impact was not reproduced in a follow-up research in male rats. (3)
The takeaway from this research is that creatine supplementation may raise the risk of mania, anxiety, or depression in those who are at risk to it.
It's also conceivable that long-term high creatine dosage impacts emotional control via altering creatine transporter function or creatine kinase activity.
More study is needed before definite conclusions can be made.
However, it is suggested that people who have existing mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, depression, etc should avoid creatine.
What About Those Not at Risk?
Because of the beneficial benefits of creatine supplementation on muscle energy metabolism and function, it's more likely that creatine will have a positive impact on brain energy metabolism, cognitive functions, and mood states in healthy people.
Essentially no human or animal studies have looked at the relationship between brain creatine metabolism and mood or cognition in healthy individuals.
However, some research suggests that naturally produced (endogenous) creatine is critical for proper brain growth and cognitive function.
The bulk of creatine kinase iosenzymes are expressed in the hippocampus and frontal cortex, suggesting that creatine metabolism is involved in higher mental performance. (4)
There is evidence that creatine may actually improve mood and cognition in healthy people, unlike people at risk of mental health issues, such as those with bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, etc.
How to Reduce Anxiety
Several strategies exist for reducing anxiety, such as the following.
Maintaining an active lifestyle
Meditation and relaxation techniques
To summarise, healthy individuals who are not at risk of mental health issues may benefit in terms of mood and cognition from supplementing with creatine.
Whereas those at risk of mental health issues may experience worse symptoms while supplementing with creatine, such as those with or at risk of the following.
Following a meditation program, trying deep breathing, among other stress and anxiety reducing techniques can help reduce anxiety.
L-theanine is a promising supplement to reduce stress and anxiety.
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This evidence based analysis on creatine causing anxiety features 5 references, listed below.
1. Roitman S, Green T, Osher Y, Karni N, Levine J. Creatine monohydrate in resistant depression: a preliminary study. Bipolar Disord. (2007, Nov) (Clinical Trial) ✔
2. Volek JS, Duncan ND, Mazzetti SA, Putukian M, Gómez AL, Kraemer WJ. No effect of heavy resistance training and creatine supplementation on blood lipids. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. (2000, Jun) (Clinical Trial) ✔
3. Allen PJ, D'Anci KE, Kanarek RB, Renshaw PF. Chronic creatine supplementation alters depression-like behavior in rodents in a sex-dependent manner. Neuropsychopharmacology. (2010, Jan) ✔
4. Kaldis P, Hemmer W, Zanolla E, Holtzman D, Wallimann T. 'Hot spots' of creatine kinase localization in brain: cerebellum, hippocampus and choroid plexus. Dev Neurosci. (1996) (Review) ✔
5. Hidese S, Ogawa S, Ota M, Ishida I, Yasukawa Z, Ozeki M, Kunugi H. Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. (2019, Oct 3) ✔
✔ Citations with a tick indicate the information is from a trusted source.
The information provided in this article is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a physician or other competent professional before following advice or taking any supplement. See our terms and conditions.