You may be taking creatine and curious about whether it can affect your mood and cause side effects like increased aggression and anger.
- While there are anecdotal reports of creatine making people angry, little scientific research supports these claims. As such, there is currently no direct causal link between using creatine and increased aggression.
- Increased anger with creatine supplementation is more likely due to other causes, such as increased caffeine intake if taking creatine as part of a pre-workout supplement.
- Creatine is safe for most healthy adults, but anyone who suspects that creatine use is worsening a psychiatric condition such as bipolar disorder should speak with their doctor.
Medical Disclaimer: The material presented in this article aims to offer informational insights. It should not be perceived as medical guidance. The views and writings are not designed for diagnosing, preventing, or treating health issues. Always consult with your physician prior to starting any new dietary or supplement routine.
Reports of Creatine & Aggression
Creatine use is not associated with aggression or mood swings, but there are many people online talking about their personal experiences with creatine, suggesting that there is a connection.
So, if this is something you’re experiencing, you’re:
- Not alone, and
- In the right place to understand more about it.
From what I’ve observed across internet forums, people asking whether creatine causes aggression have commented that:
- They “were more hyper and angier than any other day”;
- Others found them to be “more aggressive” and
- They experienced “creatine rage”
Reading through these anecdotal reports, a couple of themes were evident:
- A lack of understanding of what creatine does to the body;
- Younger or teenage people reporting mood issues when using creatine and
- Using creatine while also taking other supplements.
I’m Feeling More Angry: Is This Because Of Creatine?
It is unlikely that increased feelings of aggression are because of creatine supplementation.
All creatine supplementation does is increase creatine stores in your muscles, so you have more energy available to push harder in your workouts.
While most research on creatine has focused on its ability to enhance sports performance and muscle strength, there has been some exploration into creatine and its effects on brain function and cognitive development.
Creatine supplementation can enhance cognition, especially in people with creatine deficits in their brains. These deficits are caused by anything from sleep deprivation to Alzheimer’s disease and depression.Brittany Lubeck, MS, RD
As well as storing creatine in your muscles and kidneys, you also store it in your brain, and it’s been found that some psychiatric conditions can disrupt the body’s ability to transport creatine and its associated energy sources to the brain.
Perhaps confusion has led some to question whether creatine could make you feel more aggressive.
Research has found that instead of creatine supplementation being the cause of mood disruptions or cognitive issues, in many cases, it could provide a therapeutic benefit to those who suffer from certain psychiatric issues.
Some preliminary studies indicated:
- Creatine could provide a benefit for people with depression or PTSD, but
- It was evidenced that creatine could adversely impact people with bipolar, possibly causing more mania.
The extent of the impact of conditions like bipolar is limited, though.
It has been proposed that there should be more investigation into creatine dosage and duration for people suffering from psychiatric illnesses to understand when, if, and how creatine could be of benefit.
The overwhelming evidence suggests that for the average person, creatine is safe when consumed within recommended dosages and unlikely to cause aggression.
If, however, you have, or suspect you have, a mental health condition and you have been using creatine and noticing changes in how you’re feeling, consider consulting with your doctor to ensure it is safe and appropriate in the context of your medical history.
- Related Article: Should Beginners Take Creatine?
Other Reasons Your Aggression Is Increasing
If you are finding your aggression has increased, while creatine may be the unlikely culprit, consider whether any of the following could be contributing to changes in your mood:
Supplements like pre-workout which contain high amounts of caffeine could leave you feeling more aggressive.
For example, an average cup of coffee has around 100mg of caffeine, compared to an average scoop of pre-workout containing up to 400mg caffeine. The likely effect of this is feeling hyper and energized to smash your workout.
However, a study on the effects of caffeine intake concluded that general mood factors like anger had increased for participants consuming higher levels of caffeine compared to participants who didn’t.
So where you’re consuming creatine with high doses of caffeine, you might find yourself experiencing increased feelings of aggression.
Ingredients in Your Creatine Supplement
If the supplement you use for creatine is, for example, a hybrid of pre-workout and creatine, then there could be other ingredients causing you to feel more aggressive, namely caffeine.
As discussed, caffeine could be a contributing factor affecting your aggression levels.
- Read your ingredient label so you know what you’re consuming; and
- Talk to an expert so you know the benefit and possible side effects of your supplements.
Anabolic steroids like testosterone have been connected to increased aggression in people. So if you are taking a steroid there is a higher probability this could be causing you to feel more aggressive.
If this resonates with you, studies suggest that mood disturbances associated with steroids are typically reversible. However, any queries or concerns should be raised further with a medical professional.
Remember, creatine provides your muscles with increased energy resources so you can work harder in the gym. This is very different from steroids which are synthetic hormones promoting muscle growth, fat loss, and faster recovery.
Reactions to Your Performance
With extreme bursts of exertion or effort, you can generate a lot of energy in the body, sometimes leading to heightened emotions.
This could play out as ultimate euphoria when you achieve a new 1 rep max you have been chasing for months or it can be extreme frustration, even anger, when you miss a lift.
It is hard to remove the emotion from something you are pouring all your energy into when it doesn’t go your way.
I have missed a deadlift or two in my time and carried that frustration through the day; how you assess your performance can certainly impact your mood.
It is completely natural for you to want to explore how various supplements can support your performance goals, and it is also common to experience side effects when introducing new products or trying different supplement regimes.
Sometimes supplements can interact with each other causing these side effects, so review your supplement regime holistically to ensure it is providing the best benefit in the best way. Experts are well placed to guide you through this.
Not Drinking Enough Water
Not drinking enough water leads to dehydration. Dehydration levels of just 1.36% can make negatively impact your mood.
And while creatine on its own won’t make you dehydrated, drinking enough water when supplementing with creatine is still important.
Creatine draws water into your muscle cells. If the rest of your body doesn’t have enough water, your organs may not function properly, and your performance may suffer.
To avoid dehydration, aim for 3-5 liters of water per day when supplementing with creatine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Possible To Have Mood Swings While Taking Creatine?
Creatine alone will not cause mood swings. If you notice worse mood swings after taking creatine, they are likely due to other causes.
These can include increased fatigue due to dehydration, a higher caffeine intake, other ingredients in your creatine supplement that alter your mood, or frustration with your workout.
Does Creatine Make You Irritable?
Irritability is not known to be a direct side effect of creatine. However, you may feel more irritable after taking creatine if you take it with a high dose of caffeine and then experience a sudden energy crash.
You can also feel irritable if, for example, you take creatine before your workout and then have a bad training session.
Read More Creatine Resources
Allen PJ. Creatine metabolism and psychiatric disorders: Does creatine supplementation have therapeutic value? Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 May;36(5):1442-62. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.03.005. Epub 2012 Mar 24. PMID: 22465051; PMCID: PMC3340488.
Roitman S, Green T, Osher Y, Karni N, Levine J. Creatine monohydrate in resistant depression: a preliminary study. Bipolar Disord. 2007 Nov;9(7):754-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5618.2007.00532.x. PMID: 17988366.
Shao A, Hathcock JN. Risk assessment for creatine monohydrate. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2006 Aug;45(3):242-51. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2006.05.005. Epub 2006 Jun 30. PMID: 16814437.
Hughes GV, Boland FJ. The effects of caffeine and nicotine consumption on mood and somatic variables in a penitentiary inmate population. Addict Behav. 1992 Sep-Oct;17(5):447-57. doi: 10.1016/0306-4603(92)90005-g. PMID: 1442238.
Lawrence E. Armstrong and others, Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 142, Issue 2, February 2012, Pages 382–388, https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.111.142000
Pross N, Demazières A, Girard N, Barnouin R, Metzger D, Klein A, Perrier E, Guelinckx I. Effects of changes in water intake on mood of high and low drinkers. PLoS One. 2014 Apr 11;9(4):e94754. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094754. PMID: 24728141; PMCID: PMC3984246.
Saghir Z, Syeda JN, Muhammad AS, Balla Abdalla TH. The Amygdala, Sleep Debt, Sleep Deprivation, and the Emotion of Anger: A Possible Connection? Cureus. 2018 Jul 2;10(7):e2912. doi: 10.7759/cureus.2912. PMID: 30186717; PMCID: PMC6122651.
About The Author
Steph Catalucci is an online nutrition coach from Australia, working with clients all over the world. Her passion for nutrition was born through wanting to treat her body better, for health and performance. She is a strong advocate for understanding nutrition to develop informed nutritional habits that go beyond just food. Steph leverages a decade of her own nutritional experience to help people make sense of the noise and carve a path forward with their nutrition, supporting clients with whatever body composition goal they have. When not coaching or writing, you’ll find her training for her next powerlifting competition.
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