Does Melatonin Make Depression Worse?

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Melatonin is a naturally occurin hormone in the body that helps it to make you tired at night and awake during the day, regulating a healthy sleep cycle. When melatonin is doing its job properly, you should sleep a reasonable amount for your body and wake rested. However, a number of things can throw off your melatonin, like short winter days, jet lag and the bright lights of screen use within 2 hours of bedtime. When this happens, melatonin supplements might help the situation. In some cases, however, depression might be a side effect.

Depression and Melatonin
Many people use melatonin to treat depression, particularly when it is linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is one of the most recommended natural supplements on the market and the first thing that most natural practitioners prescribe for these problems. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for everyone. Those with additional clinical depression issues may not have the best luck using melatonin without also taking antidepressants or mood stabilizers. Those with low vitamin D levels will also find that melatonin alone won't work so well until their levels are within the normal range.

Melatonin and Vitamin D
Anyone living in or north of the northern half of the US or Europe is unlikely to have sufficient vitamin D levels without help. Both indoor life and sunscreen can prevent the body from manufacturing its own vitamin D levels, and low levels prevent the body from having optimal energy and immune function. When it comes to melatonin, the supplement or natural hormone will make you tired, but low levels of vitamin D mean that the hormone needed to make you wake refreshed and energized aren't there.

How to Optimize Natural Melatonin
Melatonin supplements are more likely than the naturally produced hormone to cause depression in people who don't respond well to it. There are a number of ways that you can help your body to acclimate. Go for a morning walk outside-- walk outside as much as you can. The more that you do, the better you'll feel, especially if a vigorous workout is included in this. In the evening, stop doing anything stressful two hours before bedtime. Stop watching television or using TV or your phone if you want optimal sleep. The bright light from screens will fool your body into thinking that it is still daylight.

If you do suffer from other complications that affect your depression, such as a psychological or mood disorder, then melatonin alone is rarely enough to help your depression, and melatonin may increase the feeling of drowsiness and lack of energy that comes with many cases of depression. Please see a qualified medical professional for additional help with these conditions.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "Does Melatonin Make Depression Worse?," in, January 10, 2016, (accessed September 28, 2022).