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Is It Safe to Take Melatonin With SSRIs?

by
author image Amanda Lynch
Amanda Lynch has been writing professionally for print and online publications since 2000. With a master's degree in health communication, her background includes patient counseling, community health and script development. Lynch specializes in covering topics related to health and wellness, women's issues and parenting.
Is It Safe to Take Melatonin With SSRIs?
If you have been prescribed SSRIs for depression, talk with your doctor before taking melatonin. Photo Credit Sad image by Gabriela from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

If you have been prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), discuss any other medications or supplements you are considering taking with your physician. Melatonin, commonly used to induce a feeling of relaxation and aid sleep, is an example of a supplement that some experts warn may interfere with your SSRI. Talk with your doctor before taking melatonin.

SSRI Overview

SSRIs impact brain chemistry to help regulate chemicals that can cause conditions like depression, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder when they are unbalanced. SSRIs treat depression, eating disorders, anxiety and panic disorders, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). SSRIs are also sometimes prescribed along with another drug to treat bipolar disorder. You should not take SSRIs if you have epilepsy, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, bipolar disorder or recurrent suicidal thoughts unless your physician has fully evaluated the situation and recommended an SSRI. SSRIs also can present a problem with the developing baby if you are pregnant, so discuss pregnancy with your doctor.

Melatonin

Melatonin is naturally made by your body, so it is understandable that you may think taking a melatonin supplement is harmless. Secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, melatonin is thought to play a role in regulating circadian rhythms and menstrual cycles and is also thought to have an antioxidant effect that helps support the immune system. While melatonin is recognized as being helpful in treating certain sleep disorders, especially those having to do either with a disruption in our circadian rhythm or low levels of natural melatonin, it can have negative effects as well. Melatonin has been associated with drowsiness, sleep disruption, decreased fertility and increased symptoms of depression. If you are pregnant or have been diagnosed with depression, speak to your physician before taking melatonin.

Melatonin's Possible Interactions With SSRIs

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), there are several classes of medication that you should not take melatonin with until you have discussed it with your physician. Unfortunately, in animal studies, melatonin was found to reduce the effectiveness of both desipramine and SSRI antidepressant medications. UMMC states that further study in humans will be needed to determine melatonin's effect on antidepressant effectiveness. Avoid taking melatonin without talking to your doctor.

How SSRIs Impact Melatonin

Ironically, SSRIs have been fassociated with a greatly lessened level of naturally occurring melatonin in people who follow an SSRI regimen. While some research has linked SSRIs to a lower level of melatonin, other research has found the opposite to be true. The "Journal of Psychopharmocology" published an article in May 2009 that studied whether a regimen of antidepressant medication, including fluoxetine, duloxetine or hypericum perforatum, had an impact on the patients' levels of melatonin. They found that, compared with the placebo group who received no medication, those taking antidepressants had a markedly higher level of melatonin. Because of those results, researchers concluded that the pharmacological action of antidepressants may impact the rate at which melatonin is secreted. In other words, if you are taking SSRIs, you may find that you have less use for melatonin, as you may have more of it in your system naturally. But if you are still struggling with sleep, discuss treatment options with your physician.

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