Andrew Huberman – Does Creatine Help Depression

Andrew Huberman – Does Creatine Help Depression?

Creatine is one of the most-researched supplements in the world and is a staple for most-gymgoers. It is scientifically proven to increase muscle mass, strength and endurance, but new research suggests that it has another incredible benefit – it improves mood and relieves depression.

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a compound that is naturally produced in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, albeit in small quantities. It is also found in certain food sources such as red meat and fish. Creatine plays a vital role in the production of energy during high-intensity workouts and activities. It improves our performance during these short bursts. This compound is stored in the muscles in the form of phosphocreatine.

Phosphocreatine provides a readily available reserve of high-energy phosphate groups that can be rapidly utilized to regenerate adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the primary energy source of cells. When we perform high-intensity workouts such as lifting weights or sprinting, the body needs more ATP. Creatine helps to quickly replenish ATP levels which effectively enhances our performance. As creatine replenishes ATP supplies, it provides us with more strength and intensity in short bursts, and it also allows us to perform these short bursts of explosive movements for longer.

When talking about the benefits of creatine, neuroscientist and avid gym-goer Andrew Huberman said: “creatine can draw more water into muscles and can increase power output from muscles. It’s something that does indeed work.”

Does Creatine Help Depression?

Recent studies suggest supplementing creatine not only enhances your physical performance and physique, but it can also help to improve our mood and relieve depression. Andrew Huberman is excited by these findings stating: “There are at least three quality studies that show that creatine supplementation doesn’t just have these positive effects on physical performance, but it can also be used as a way to increase mood and to improve the symptoms of major depression.”

There is something called the phosphocreatine system in the forebrain, the front part of the brain, and this part of the brain is related to mood regulation, reward pathways, and depression. Studies have found that an increase in the activity of the phosphocreatine system correlates with improvement in mood. Multiple studies have taken place involving men, women and adolescents, with all of them finding that creatine supplementation helps to improve mood. Some of the subjects were taking SSRIs (anti-depressants) and some weren’t. The results were positive in all of the studies.

Andrew Huberman mentions a studied published in The American Journal of Psychiatry in 2012 that found creatine monohydrate “could augment or enhance the response to a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, in particular with women with major depressive disorder.”

He continues: “Creatine supplementation seems to either lower the required dose of SSRI that’s required to treat depression or can improve the effectiveness of a given dose of SSRI.”

Many of these studies on creatine have shown that it increases the activity of the phosphocreatine system in the forebrain and some show that there is a relationship between that phosphocreatine system and a particular category of receptors in the brain called the NMDA receptor (N-methyl-D-aspartate).

The NMDA receptor has electrical and chemical properties that make it a critical gate for neuroplasticity. It’s not a receptor that’s activated in the brain just for the functioning of the brain on a day-to-day basis, it’s a receptor that’s activated when circuits are going to change, when they are inspired to change by some very strong stimulus such as an experience or a drug.

Talking about creatine and its relation to the NMDA receptors Andrew Huberman says: “It seems that creatine supplementation leads to increased activity in the phosphocreatine system in the forebrain. And increases in the activity of the forebrain phosphocreatine system relate to changes in the way NMDA receptors function and may lead to some of the plasticity, the changes in neural circuits that underlie the shift from negative mood to positive mood.” Huberman says there are still some blanks to fill in in terms of the exact way that creatine elevates mood, but more studies are currently underway.

We know that creatine enhances physical performance and increases muscle mass, and plenty of studies suggest that it improves mood and decreases depression, but another study suggests that this supplement has other cognitive benefits. The 2018 study found that oral creatine administration may improve short-term memory and intelligence/reasoning of healthy individuals.

What Type of Creatine is Best?

The majority of studies have been performed using creatine monohydrate. While there are other types of creatine, monohydrate is the most popular among athletes and gym enthusiasts. There is less research on the other forms of creatine.

What is the Best Dosage for Creatine?

Five grams of creatine per day is the usual recommendation for supplementing for exercise enhancement. Huberman says: “For most people low dose creatine supplementation of anywhere from one gram to five grams per day can have a number of positive effects on physical performance.”

Most of the aforementioned studies on creatine’s effects on mood and depression used three to five grams of creatine per day.

Huberman himself takes five grams of creatine per day for its physical performance benefits as well as its potential mood-boosting properties: “I personally take five grams of creatine for other reasons, I take it for the physical performance-enhancing effects, but it’s kind of nice to think that perhaps it’s also helping me improve my mood.”

Is Creatine Safe for Everyone?

Low doses of up to 5g of creatine per day are regarded as safe for most people. However, people with bipolar disorder should avoid it. Huberman says: “One of the more interesting effects is that creatine has actually been shown to increase mania in people that are already manic. It seems that creatine elevates levels of activation and mood overall. And you could see why that would be a problem for somebody that’s already in a manic phase, but it actually might be beneficial for somebody who is very low affect and has major depression.”


Creatine is a compound that is naturally created by the body in small doses. It’s also found in fish and red meat. A plethora of scientific research show supplementing with creatine enhances physical performance, increases strength, and increases muscle mass.

Recent studies have shown that creatine supplementation can also boost mood and improve symptoms of depression. Other studies suggest it can also improve cognitive function and memory. Creatine is safe for most people and can be taken daily at doses between one and five grams.   

Here’s Andrew Huberman’s final word on the topic: “If you are someone who is thinking about things that you can do and things you can take to in order to improve your mood, keep depression at bay, maybe even support other treatments for major depression, creatine seems like a logical one.”

We teach you how to beat depression in our guide. While exercise is key, there are other techniques and lifestyle changes that must be implemented. In the guide, we give you the full gameplan.

Read more: Andrew Huberman – How Psilocybin Helps People with Depression

Read more: Andrew Huberman – Does Creatine Help Depression?

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