Energy & Holistic

Melatonin for Anxiety

The Bottom Line 

  • Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland.
  • Available in the OTC supplement form.
  • Used for managing anxiety symptoms caused by imbalanced sleeping, jet lag, and surgeries.
  • Helps with sleep work disorder.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland that regulates sleep processes. It controls day and night cycles, cardiac rhythms. Its peak efficacy is found at night when it is produced in large amounts allowing one to fall asleep faster. During the day, the Melatonin level is reduced to keep a person awake. 

Melatonin for anxiety is an over the counter (OTC) supplement used to treat sleeping disturbances. Extensive evidence exists to effects on anxiety treatment. Melatonin is believed to work by improving the quality of sleeping, sleep/wake scenarios, and sleep onset. Melatonin for anxiety shows progress in reducing anxiety symptoms such as nervousness, complicated breathing, extreme tiredness based on improved quality and amount of sleep. 

As per the FDA, Melatonin for anxiety is classified as a dietary supplement. It does not fit for long-term treatment but shows efficacy of short-term application after trauma or depression episodes that could cause sleep disturbances. It is used to affect sleep work disorder. Some uses are directed to manage jet lag anxiety, a feeling of tiredness acquired from changing the time zones during travels.

Melatonin is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan. It allows the retina to detect and synthesize light. Photoreceptor cells of the retina alert the hypothalamus in the brain about the light phase, and it initiates the adjustment of body temperature, respiration rate and emotional state to promote fast and healthy sleeping. 

Melatonin for anxiety supplement is available in various forms. 

Can Melatonin Be Taken for Anxiety?

Melatonin for anxiety is an off-label supplement. It is believed to help with anxiety by improving the quality of sleep. 

Is Melatonin FDA Approved for Anxiety?

Melatonin for anxiety is a dietary supplement under the Dietary Health and Education Act. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Accordingly, Melatonin is not approved for anxiety treatment by the Food and Drug Administration. 

What Research Supports Melatonin for anxiety? 

There is evidence in clinical studies, research on the use of Melatonin for anxiety.

  • Melatonin for depressive symptoms and anxiety was studied in 240 patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS). The application of Melatonin during 3 months has shown efficacy for depressive symptoms, sleep, cardiac issues, and anxiety. It was recommended as the first-line therapy for senior patients aged over 55. It proved an anxiolytic and analgesic effect with low toxicity properties. The overall study showed its safe application and relevance in ACS patients. 
  • The response of Melatonin for sleep anxiety and major depressive disorder (MDD) was found in the application of 25mg dosages of agomelatine (melatonin agonist). It improved neurogenesis in patients who have suffered from a stroke. It showed the efficacy of behavioral improvement. The studies were also directed to check animal neuroprotective activity after ischemic stroke. They resulted in low toxicity and suggest Melatonin for human stroke treatment in the future.
  • Melatonin was checked for efficacy in reducing anxiety scores and fear of surgery in patients. The scores were reduced from 5 to 3 during the surgery. And, 5 to 0 after the surgery.

What do experts say about Melatonin for anxiety?

Melatonin for Anxiety

MD, Ph.D., a board-certified integrative medicine physician says

"Your body creates melatonin on its own, but some people just don't make enough, and that can lead to issues sleeping and relaxing as well as general anxiety issues... Luckily, melatonin products are available to supplement your body's natural production. And that, in turn, can ease those anxiety-related feelings, improve sleep, and even help regulate your circadian rhythms."

What Are the Possible Side Effects?

Melatonin help for anxiety has mild side effects. 

  • Headache;
  • Nausea;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Agitation.

The medication is responding safely with short-term treatment. The long-run application for anxiety treatment may reduce the body’s natural ability to produce this hormone. If you drive machinery or operate hazardous equipment, abstain from Melatonin intake due to the drowsiness outcome. It is contraindicated for use in patients with autoimmune diseases. Don’t take it if you are allergic to Melatonin and other ingredients found in the supplement. It is accepted for use in children over the age of 4. Pregnant women should speak to their doctor about the possibility of application. In some animal studies, Melatonin led to low birth weight.

Does Melatonin Have Interactions with Other Medications?

Speak to your doctor about taking the following medications for anxiety treatment alongside Melatonin. They may interfere with or alter the efficacy and cause side effects.

  • Sodium Oxybate;
  • Blood thinners;
  • Anticoagulants;
  • Blood pressure drugs;
  • CNS depressants;
  • Contraceptive and diabetes medications.

The interactions with these medications may possibly lead to bleeding, dropped blood pressure, additive sedative effects, increased sugar levels. 

How to Take Melatonin?

The anxiety treatment with Melatonin is not clear in terms of the best doses. Speak to a physician to adjust it based on your health condition. As per clinical studies, patients have been successfully treated with 3-10mg doses prior to sleeping. Start with the low doses only. The higher doses for anxiety relief may lead to overdose or side effects such as vivid dreams. A tablet can be cut in half. Take it with or without meals. 

For insomnia and anxiety. The medication is used 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to sleeping. 

For jet lag. It is suggested to take Melatonin 4 days straight after traveling 30 minutes before bedtime.

Please, take it as directed. Melatonin absorption differs in patients and may require certain precautions with the application. Don’t abruptly stop the intake. Some people become addicted to melatonin and after discontinuation find it hard to fall asleep. It is not safe to interact with alcohol.

Are There Alternatives to Melatonin? 

Prescription medications as Alternatives to Melatonin for Anxiety

Melatonin for anxiety is an OTC supplement for reducing anxiety symptoms such as nervousness, complicated breathing, extreme tiredness based on enhanced rates of sleeping. 

  • Klonopin

  • Buspirone

  • Lexapro

  • Prozac

  • Paxil

  • Xanax

  • Valium

  • Inderal

  • Cymbalta

  • Tofranil

  • Hydroxyzine

  • Zoloft

There are various alternatives. If you’d like to learn more about whether Melatonin, another medication or treatment modality is right for you, we recommend that you speak with a licensed psychiatrist. Here are the best online psychiatry platforms so you can speak with someone right away!

Therapy as an Alternative to Melatonin 

Learn more about different therapy options for anxiety  here

Energy & Holistic Modalities as an Alternative to Melatonin 

Learn more about different energy & holistic modalities for anxiety here

Tech & Devices as Alternative Treatments to Melatonin

Learn more about tech & devices for anxiety  here

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911. 


By Natalie Kirilova

Natalie is a writer with a focus in medical research with over 10 years of experience