Melatonin and Depression: Does It Make It Better or Worse?


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Dealing with sleep disturbances can prove incredibly frustrating. Not only can it leave you feeling groggy, it can actually increase many of the symptoms of depression

Many people suffering from depression may consider trying supplements to help with symptoms. In particular, people who are depressed may take supplements that make it easier to fall asleep. Melatonin is a commonly-recommended supplement for helping you fall asleep. 

Before trying melatonin to help with depressive symptoms or sleep deprivation, it is important to understand its effects. Specifically, you may want to consider the potential link between melatonin and depression. 

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that your brain naturally produces as it gets dark outside. Thanks to the production of melatonin, you will naturally feel more tired as night approaches. Some people may not produce enough melatonin naturally, so they take melatonin supplements to help make it easier to fall asleep. In supplementary form, melatonin can lead to some side effects, which may include:

  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Increased risk of depression

Melatonin can also help shift natural waking/sleeping patterns and improve symptoms of circadian misalignment in some patients.

Before deciding to use melatonin, it can prove helpful to consult your doctor. A medical professional can help determine if melatonin is right for you and if it may worsen any of your symptoms. This is especially true if you already have depression.

Can Melatonin Make You Depressed?

Modern science is not yet entirely clear about the link between melatonin and depression. Some studies suggest that melatonin levels may increase in people with depression. Patients seem to produce more melatonin at night when suffering from major depressive disorder. That production of melatonin may decrease when patients resolve major depressive symptoms. 

However, that does not necessarily mean that melatonin can directly make a patient depressed. Instead, increased melatonin secretion at night could serve as an indicator of major depressive disorder in some patients. 

If you are considering taking melatonin to help with sleep, you should know the impact on depression. Taking melatonin can increase some short-term symptoms of depression. Melatonin supplements are designed to help make you tired and make it easier to fall asleep. 

Unfortunately, depression can often sap your energy. If you’re taking melatonin, it could cause you to feel more tired and run down during the day.

Can melatonin actually make you depressed? Probably not. In most cases, melatonin does not actually cause depression, particularly in someone who has not already shown symptoms. However, melatonin can cause some short-term feelings of depression, which should be carefully monitored. 

Can Melatonin Make Depression Worse?

Melatonin consumption, particularly in high quantities, can mimic some of the symptoms of depression.

Consider the side effects of melatonin consumption. Patients may feel tired, which is also a known depression symptom. Some patients who take melatonin to help them fall asleep may feel groggy or disoriented the next day. 

Generally, melatonin only stays in the body for about five hours. However, some patients may show lingering symptoms. Taking melatonin at the wrong time may also increase the odds that patients will suffer from lingering symptoms. 

In general, there is no research showing that melatonin actually makes depression, especially major depressive disorder, worse. However, if taken incorrectly, it may worsen some of the symptoms often associated with depression. This includes taking melatonin in too-high quantities or taking the medicine at the wrong time. 

Can Melatonin Help with Depression?

In some cases, melatonin consumption could help improve symptoms of depression when compared to a placebo. How effective melatonin is in treating depression may depend on the specific type of depression and the individual in question. For example, melatonin may prove more helpful in treating seasonal depression than it is in treating major depressive disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder/Seasonal Depression and Melatonin

Seasonal depressive disorder is often caused due to a misalignment in circadian rhythms. Patients who get out of circadian alignment may suffer from a range of symptoms, including a considerably increased risk of depression. For patients who suffer from that circadian misalignment, taking melatonin may help resolve some depressive symptoms. This happens because the medication can help patients better align their circadian rhythms and get more sleep at night. 

Circadian Misalignment, Depression, and Melatonin

Many patients suffer from sleep disturbances as a result of depression. Chronic sleep deprivation, including mild sleep deprivation on a regular basis, can also substantially increase the risk of developing depression. It may also cause considerable circadian misalignment, which can help make it harder to function. 

Taking melatonin may help regulate some of those sleep disturbances and make it easier for patients to sleep. Which may improve some other symptoms of depression as a result. Melatonin is a useful tool in aiding in the treatment of patients who suffer from sleep deprivation. 

Should You Take Melatonin If You Suffer From Depression?

If you suffer from depression, you may find yourself wondering if you should take melatonin. However, melatonin is not a solution for depression. Some research suggests that it may help ease or cope with symptoms associated with depression. But, it may also lead to an increase in some symptoms at some times. 

If you are looking for a solution for depressive symptoms it’s important to consult your primary care physician or mental health professional.  Your care provider can help monitor you for additional symptoms. They can also give you a better idea of whether melatonin could work for your specific needs. 

After receiving a depression diagnosis, or noticing symptoms of depression worsening, talk to your care provider. It is important to inform them about all the supplements you take on a regular basis, including melatonin. Your care provider can help you document the impact of melatonin on depression symptoms. This includes how the medication may impact you on a long-term and short-term basis.

Contact Us for Help Fighting Depression

If you’re dealing with symptoms of depression, Steps for Change can help. Our team of mental health professionals can help identify your symptoms. We can also develop a treatment plan to help with your specific concerns. 

Contact us today to connect with a team of passionate professionals geared toward helping with hope and healing.