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How Effective Is Melatonin for Anxiety?

Woman sleeping soundly due to melatonin.
Melatonin supplement.
Melatonin helps yield more restful sleep, which can aid the body's nervous system in reducing anxiety levels.
Melatonin supplements have been linked to nightmares and vivid dreams.
Proponents of melatonin believe that it can slow down racing thoughts and help ease anxiety.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 October 2014
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Melatonin is a hormone that is generated naturally in the body, but is also available in the form of a nutritional supplement. Like many supplements, there is conflicting evidence regarding the uses for the product and how effective it is for different ailments. One of the more common claims is that it is possible to use melatonin for anxiety, including disorders that include the occurrence of panic attacks. One school of thought is that the supplement can promote more recuperative sleep and also help restore balance in the body, effectively aiding in the function of the nervous system. A different perspective holds that using it will produce nothing more than a placebo effect.

For people who believe melatonin is a viable course of treatment for anxiety, the focus is often on how the supplement acts indirectly to ease the demands of the illness on the nervous system. Here, melatonin is able to help temporarily slow the racing mind that is common among anxiety sufferers and increase the chances of being able to sleep soundly. The idea is that healthy sleep patterns provide respite for the overworked nerves while also refreshing the body and mind. Consistently recuperative sleep, along with dietary changes and therapy, may help to slowly reverse the effects of anxiety and allow the individual to overcome the disorder eventually.

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Another claim for melatonin has to do with helping to strengthen the immune system. This is said to indirectly help with anxiety disorders, since a stronger immune system can fend off infections and other ailments that place even greater demand on the body, including the nervous system. By prompting a stronger immune system, the supplement paves the way for essential nutrients to be diverted to the healing of the nerves, effectively making melatonin worth consideration along with other treatments.

While using melatonin for anxiety along with exercise, diet changes, and therapy may work well for some, there are people who experience severe side effects with the supplement. In some instances, melatonin increases anxiety and panic rather than helping to reduce the severity of these symptoms. In addition, it may increase the effects of prescription anxiety medications, leading to difficulty breathing or trouble waking up. Before adding the supplement to other treatments already in place, individuals should consult a medical professional to determine if and how much melatonin can safely be added to the overall treatment effort.

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