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Keywords:

  • bipolar depression;
  • bipolar disorder;
  • creatine monohydrate;
  • major depressive disorder;
  • treatment

Objectives:  Creatine plays a pivotal role in brain energy homeostasis, and altered cerebral energy metabolism may be involved in the pathophysiology of depression. Oral creatine supplementation may modify brain high-energy phosphate metabolism in depressed subjects.

Methods:  Eight unipolar and two bipolar patients with treatment-resistant depression were treated for four weeks with 3–5 g/day of creatine monohydrate in an open add-on design. Outcome measures were the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Hamilton Anxiety Scale, and Clinical Global Impression scores, recorded at baseline and at weeks 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Results:  One patient improved considerably after one week and withdrew. Both bipolar patients developed hypomania/mania. For the remaining seven patients, all scale scores significantly improved. Adverse reactions were mild and transitory.

Conclusions:  This small, preliminary, open study of creatine monohydrate suggests a beneficial effect of creatine augmentation in unipolar depression, but possible precipitation of a manic switch in bipolar depression.