Sleep problems can aggravate anxiety, and melatonin may help treat sleep issues. There is also some evidence that melatonin may help improve anxiety symptoms.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate circadian rhythms, which cause feelings of wakefulness and sleep. Production of melatonin takes place in the pineal gland of the brain.
Anxiety is a common mental disorder affecting
This article considers the role of melatonin in relieving anxiety, its dosage, and whether it causes any adverse effects.
The synthesis, as well as secretion of melatonin, mostly occurs in darkness during the night. In humans, the secretion peaks between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., then gradually decreases.
Melatonin helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles and promote sleep. Recent research has indicated other uses of melatonin, including treating age-related cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disorders.
Several melatonin supplements are available for use in the United States. However, they
Few clinical studies have shown the impact of melatonin supplements on relieving anxiety. Most of these studies included people who were undergoing surgery. This is because many people can experience anxiety before or after surgery.
Melatonin supplements are available as oral tablets, oral pills, transdermal patches, and rectal suppositories.
Research has shown that doses ranging from
However, the accurate dosage for treating anxiety is still not clear.
People can look for supplements with approval from the US Pharmacopeia (USP), an independent nonprofit organization, to ensure correct dosing.
Research is ongoing to determine the exact cause of low melatonin levels. However, a few factors that can lead to its low levels are:
- Age: Studies indicate that melatonin production decreases with age.
- Diseases: An
older studysuggests several diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, migraine, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, can lead to low melatonin levels.
- Light exposure: Exposure to light — especially at night — can cause low melatonin levels. Blue light is quite effective in the suppression of melatonin.
Various factors can lead to anxiety. Common causes
- exposure to stressful environments such as family issues or difficulties at work
- a family history of anxiety or other mental disorders
- medical conditions such as diabetes, heart arrhythmias, or thyroid disorders
- overuse of caffeine or illegal substances
Most people do not experience side effects when taking melatonin supplements.
The side effects produced by melatonin are mostly mild, but a person should speak with a healthcare professional if they cause issues. Side effects include:
- irritability or restlessness
- dry mouth
- dry or itchy skin
- pains in arms or legs
- strange dreams or night sweats
Serious side effects are rare. A person should speak with a healthcare professional as soon as possible if they experience the following symptoms:
- blurry vision or watery eyes
- feeling faint or passing out
- bleeding that does not stop
- unexplained bruising
- blood in the urine
People who are pregnant or nursing must also consult doctors before taking melatonin.
Some common supplements and vitamins that can help relieve anxiety are as follows:
- Vitamin D: Several
studieshave shown that the intake of vitamin D supplements or foods rich in vitamin D can help with anxiety.
- Vitamin B complex: Studies
showvitamins B6 and B12 play an important role in reducing anxiety.
- L-theanine: This amino acid is commonly available in green tea.
Researchhas highlighted it has the potential to promote mental health and thereby improve anxiety.
- Magnesium: An essential mineral that helps to maintain homeostasis. Magnesium supplementation is
beneficialfor the improvement of anxiety.
- Omega-3: This is present in flaxseeds and fish. A few
studieshave highlighted that it can have a beneficial effect on anxiety.
- Chamomile: One of the most extensively used herbal supplements throughout the world. Very few
studieshave taken place on the impact of chamomile on anxiety. However, they indicate that chamomile can help to reduce anxiety and is quite safe.
- Kava kava: This is a South Pacific medicinal plant. Intake of kava root
can helprelieve anxiety.
- Valerian: Several
studieshave indicated valerian roots play an important role in treating sleep problems and anxiety.
- Lavender: Exposure to lavender in any form can help in the improvement of anxiety.
Anxiety treatment can take place with the help of therapy or medication. People can speak with a healthcare professional to understand the most suitable treatment option.
Talk therapy or psychotherapy can be useful for people with anxiety. Two types of therapy for anxiety are:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This teaches people several ways of behaving, thinking, and responding to different situations to help them feel less anxious.
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): This behavioral therapy uses goal setting and mindfulness strategies to reduce anxiety and discomfort.
The medications that can help treat anxiety include:
- Antidepressants: Includes serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which can treat anxiety by controlling stress and mood.
- Benzodiazepines: These act faster than antidepressant medications and can be useful as the first-line treatment for anxiety. However, they cause serious withdrawal symptoms if a person uses them long term, so they are typically recommended for short-term use only.
- Buspirone: This is a nonbenzodiazepine that can help to treat anxiety. However, its use is not widespread since it takes
2–3 weeksto show results.
- Beta-blockers: This medication is typically used for high blood pressure but can also help improve anxiety.
People experiencing severe anxiety symptoms, such as a high heart rate, feeling depressed, having sleeping difficulties, or having suicidal thoughts, must visit their doctors.
Doctors can then identify the underlying condition and provide a suitable treatment option.
People undergoing treatment for anxiety must also visit doctors in case they are experiencing any issues with ongoing medications.
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
Here are some common questions about melatonin and anxiety.
Does melatonin help with panic attacks?
The role of melatonin in helping panic attacks is still not clear and requires further research.
Does melatonin help with insomnia?
Melatonin is a hormone that helps to modulate sleep patterns. Few studies indicate that melatonin can help treat anxiety, especially in people undergoing surgical procedures.
Several supplements of melatonin are available. However, people must only take melatonin on a doctor’s recommendation since it can interact with other medications and produce certain side effects.