Your body follows a circadian rhythm, a series of sleep-wake cycles that are regulated by your brain. In some individuals, this preset system is faulty, which can cause sleep problems, fatigue and even depression. Melatonin is a hormone in your body that works to help regulate your internal rhythm. Some take it to help with sleep problems, others for mood, but before you consider taking this, you should be aware of the side effects, such as depression. Before taking any supplement, always consult with your doctor.
Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces naturally. It is made and regulated by the pineal gland inside your brain. It is made from serotonin, another hormone that elicits a feeling of happiness. Melatonin participates in the sleep-wake cycle to help bring you down at the end of the day in order to prepare your body for sleep. When it's light outside, your body produces less melatonin, and when it gets dark, your production increases.
Melatonin is used by a variety of people for a variety of reasons. According to the MedlinePlus website, you can use melatonin to alter your internal clock. This may be useful for people suffering from jet lag, insomnia, delayed sleep phase syndrome, blindness, depression and insomnia.
Melatonin and Seasonal Affective Disorder
The most common use of melatonin for depression is in people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. This is the condition in which reduced sunlight exposure and time can cause depression. A study conducted by the Oregon Health and Sciences University in 2006 tested a placebo against melatonin in people suffering from SAD. The individuals taking the melatonin improved their mood and lessened their depression.
Though melatonin is used as a cure for depression, it may make depression worse for some individuals. Melatonin prepares you for sleep, bringing your energy levels down; thus, an increase of melatonin may lead to a lower mood and depressive state.
Counteracting Depression From Melatonin
If you must take melatonin to help with your sleep or mental problems, you can try to counteract the effects of this hormone with vitamin D. According to Marcele Pick, an obstetrician and gynecologist, on the website Womentowomen.com, increasing the amount of vitamin D you take in can increase your mood. When melatonin is high, vitamin D is low and vice versa. Increasing your exposure to sunlight in order to absorb more vitamin D may help improve your mood, counteracting the negative effects of melatonin.
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- National Institute of General Medical Sciences: Circadian Rhythms Fact Sheet
- Medline Plus: Melatonin
- Disabled-World.com: What is Melatonin
- Women to Women; Preventing Vitamin D Deficiency; Marcelle Pick; March 12011
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Melatonin
- ScienceDaily; Melatonin Improves Mood in Winter Depression; May 2006