Does Taking Melatonin Cause Depression?
Does Taking Melatonin Cause Depression? No, in general terms, taking melatonin does not cause depression in an individual. A lot of people have concerns using melatonin as they think as it has a role in inducing sleep, figuratively, it might play an indirect role in the overall mood of the person taking it and ultimately cause depression. But taking melatonin is not scientifically proven yet to cause any signs of depression. Therefore, considering that the product might not be suitable for people who are already on the verge of developing low mood disorders leading to depression is not something to be worried about.
Can Melatonin Cause Depression?
However, some rare effects of taking the medication in some people who have depressive symptoms might develop even worse conditions from taking a sleep-inducing chemical like this one. To identify the connection between the two and answering the question “Does taking melatonin cause depression?” let’s consider some essential information first.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is naturally produced in the body by the brain's pineal gland to influence the circadian rhythm of the body. That means it helps in the induction of sleep. Influenced by the day timings, it is released when it gets dark outside, so the body naturally develops the tendency to fall asleep at night.
When this behavior is disturbed due to a chemical imbalance in the body, some stressful conditions, a change in routine and normal lifestyle, or a physiological change in the body, the brain cannot produce melatonin in a natural amount that disturbs our sleeping pattern. As a result, we find it hard to fall asleep, get a night of full REM sleep, or sleep at the desired time, which is usually at night.
This creates a melatonin deficiency in our body that creates issues related to sleep. This includes, but is not restricted to the following:
- Sleep apnea
- Jet lag
- Shift work sleep disorder
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorder
- Delayed sleep phase disorder
- Sleep-wake disturbance disorder
When Does Taking Melatonin Become Necessary?
While most of the temporary conditions can be treated with following a lifestyle of discipline and consistency and taking the help of other remedies and practices for a comfortable sleep at night, it sometimes becomes much too impractical to fix our sleeping patterns on our own, and we have to take the help of a medication that will help us to compensate the deficiency of melatonin in our body which is disturbing our normal sleep pattern.
What are the Side Effects of Taking Melatonin?
The common side effects of taking melatonin include the following:
- Confusion or irritability
These conditions might not occur in all people taking the melatonin product and hence vary from individual to individual. However, all of these side effects of taking melatonin point toward one underlying cause – low blood glucose levels. Melatonin naturally works by alleviating the energy levels of the person, which causes a drop in blood glucose levels. As it happens, a person might experience feelings of dizziness and nausea, which can also lead to mental confusion. A lack of glucose in the bloodstream can also make a person feel irritable. But this is temporary, and the levels regulate as soon as the substance does its job and gets excreted out of the body after following the normal pharmacokinetics.
However, a rare side effect melatonin might induce in a person is short term depression, which is discussed further in this article.
Melatonin and Depression – Why the Connection?
Melatonin and depression have a strong connection with each other considering the latter increases the effects of the former. Considering this linkage, many people tend to get worried that melatonin might cause depression in people taking the substance. However, it is not the case – both melatonin and depression cause decreased energy levels in a person, but that does not mean melatonin induces depression in the person consuming it. The occurrence of a shared symptom does not lead to the fact that melatonin is a causative factor behind the disease. Although people with depression produce more amounts of melatonin in their bodies as discussed in the scientific studies mentioned below, it does not mean melatonin has any role in inducing the condition itself.
Common sense also says that melatonin is not the causative factor behind inducing the psychological disorder, because if it were true in any case, all persons with fully functional pineal glands and normal sleeping cycles would be diagnosed with depression. The statement is not true, which leads to our notion of melatonin inducing depression to be completely false. To explain the viewpoint through the lens of science and logical explanations, we have further displayed scientific evidence, as mentioned below:
Should Depressed People Take Melatonin?
Although there has been found no single scientific evidence that suggests melatonin to be inducing depression in the individuals taking the medication, the question of the relation of the substance with people already having depression is sorted as by the following hypothesis:
The Depression Hypothesis
Many people with depression tend to have hypersomnia, hypoglycemia, and a lower energy level, consequently, which deprives them to function normally throughout the day. The melatonin induces sleep in a person taking it, which also decreases a person’s energy levels in the body to help them bring in a calmer state. As a result, the person feels even more lethargic with already present symptoms of major depressive disorder. In this way, taking melatonin by depressed people might come with enhanced risks for developing worsened conditions.
What Does Science Say?
Considering this common sense, patients diagnosed with clinical depression hesitate to take melatonin for its additive effects on lethargy in their bodies. A study conducted in 2002 suggests depressed people having higher melatonin levels that make them lethargic and sleepy all day. Another scientific study – a 2006 review suggests the depressed people producing more levels of melatonin at night.
It is evident that melatonin induces sleep by preparing the body to get into the sleepy mood through lowered energy levels, a sign of clinical depression. Many people deviate from their symptoms of depression. So, for example, if someone has been diagnosed with depression and experiences lower energy levels, taking melatonin under such conditions will make matters even worse.
Can Depression be a Side Effect of Taking Melatonin?
Melatonin induces a low chance for the development of rare side effects in a person taking it, and that is the occurrence of short term depression. Unlike chronic depression that hardly goes off, short term depression, as the name indicates, is much lesser long-lasting and subsides through the removal of the triggering factor – in this case, melatonin intake by the individual.
What are the Other Ways to Improve Sleep Quality?
You can improve your sleep quality and of course, quantity through the use of the following tips:
- Use lavender oil – rub it in your palms, behind your ears, put some in your pillow or clothes before going to bed
- Drink warm milk – put some saffron (if possible) in a glass of warm milk and consume it with some almonds before an hour you go to bed
- Take a warm shower – take a warm shower and moisturize your body with lotion before you put comfortable clothes for going to bed
- Make the environment dark – make sure that the room you are going to sleep is fully dark and does not have any incoming source of light, so your melatonin does not get disturbed
- Practice meditation – practicing meditation will help you get the breathing rhythms to get set and clear your mind out of thoughts that are elevating your stress levels and therefore hindering you in sleeping
- Listen to calming music – listen to some calming music with melodious and soothing tunes to help you get in a relaxed position before you sleep. You can also listen to white noise or the voice of wind chimes or water rushing
- Exercise regularly – you need to exercise regularly so that your body naturally produces more melatonin at night for a proper rest it needs
- Set the right temperature – the temperature of the room you are going to sleep should be comfortable enough for your body – neither too hot nor too cold.
These were some extra tips you can work with for getting a healthy night's sleep. However, if you have a serious condition where none of the above-mentioned tips work, you might need to take the help of artificial melatonin to help you tackle your sleeping problems.
Taking melatonin does not cause depression in people taking it. However, it is still yet to be scientifically proved if it even worsens the depression in people already having the disease or not. Also, under prevailing circumstances, we have come to note that most of the people do not feel short term depression on taking melatonin. Concluding this, extensive scientific research is needed to note the actual results of the substance, so prescription choices for the patients of depression can be changed accordingly.