Korean and American investigators enrolled 52 women with major depressive disorder in an 8-week double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial and randomly assigned them to receive escitalopram—an SSRI antidepressant—in addition to either creatine or placebo. Efficacy was primarily assessed by changes in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D).
They found that in comparison with the placebo group, patients receiving creatine augmentation showed significantly greater improvements in HAM-D score, as early as week 2 of treatment. This differential improvement was maintained at weeks 4 and 8. There were no differences between treatment groups in the proportion of patients who discontinued treatment prematurely or in the overall frequency of adverse events.
The results need to be replicated in more studies, but the researchers say the results are encouraging because antidepressants like escitalopram, despite their immediate effects at the synaptic level, usually require several weeks of administration to achieve clinical efficacy. “The present results suggest that creatine, used to augment treatment with the SSRI escitalopram, provides a promising therapeutic approach for major depressive disorder in terms of its superior efficacy, relatively good tolerability, minimal side effects, and easy attainability,” they wrote.
The AJP report is here. For more about depression and antidepressant medication see Psychiatric News, click here.