Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycles. It may also help if you’re living with anxiety or similar mental health conditions.

Your body produces melatonin from the amino acid tryptophan in the pineal gland. The process mainly takes place in the dark.

Supplements contain a synthesized version of melatonin. People often take melatonin supplements to help them fall asleep, but they may also help with anxiety.

Evidence suggests that taking melatonin supplements may benefit your anxiety.

In a 2022 review of melatonin as a treatment for anxiety, researchers broke down the various underlying biological reasons for anxiety and how melatonin may influence them.

They concluded that melatonin interacts both directly and indirectly with many of the root biological causes of anxiety, making it a potentially beneficial therapy for anxiety with minimal side effects.

Another review from 2020 compared melatonin supplements to a placebo and benzodiazepines for people exhibiting anxiety before and after a surgical operation. They found that compared to the placebo, people exhibited less anxiety.

Compared to benzodiazepines, a type of medication used for anxiety, melatonin showed similar results. They concluded that melatonin offers potential therapeutic effects with minimal side effects.

These findings reflect similar results from previous studies. In a 2017 study, researchers noted that melatonin can provide effective treatment for anxiety in people following acute coronary syndrome.

A 2018 study compared melatonin to alprazolam, a common medication used for anxiety and panic disorders. They found that melatonin both provided similar therapeutic benefits and fewer side effects compared to the medication.

In a smaller 2018 study, researchers examined how melatonin compared to oxazepam in people presenting with ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). They found that melatonin helped to reduce anxiety and improve sleep patterns in the group that took the supplement.

In other words, the available evidence suggests that taking melatonin supplements may be effective for people who experience both acute symptoms of anxiety, such as before surgery or other life events, and people living with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Melatonin comes as a supplement. You can purchase it at most pharmacies and online. The exact dose of melatonin may vary.

One study used 3 milligrams (mg) nightly. Another study also used 3 mg nightly.

But, another study used a 25 mg dose.

You should follow the label instructions for proper dosage and consider discussing optimal doses for your needs with a doctor. They may also help review current medications and supplements to make sure it will not interfere or interact negatively.

Researchers generally consider melatonin safe and effective, with mostly minor adverse events or side effects.

According to a 2022 review, reported mild reactions include:

  • daytime sleepiness
  • hypothermia
  • other sleep-related issues
  • dizziness
  • headache

More serious reported adverse events included:

  • palpitations
  • fatigue
  • agitation
  • nightmares
  • mood swings
  • skin irritation

The side effects all resolved spontaneously and within a few days of use.

In a 2020 review of studies, reports of adverse events were relatively minimal. They broke it down as follows:

  • 14 studies did not include any reports on adverse events
  • six studies specifically stated no side effects occurred
  • seven studies reported only minor side effects, including nausea, sleepiness, dizziness, and headache
  • zero reported any severe side effects

But, the researchers specifically state that because 14 of the studies did not mention adverse events at all, it’s impossible to conclude precisely how well tolerated the supplement is.

If you try melatonin and notice unpleasant side effects, you may want to consider discussing them with a doctor or discontinuing the supplement. If you take other medications or supplements, you should not start taking melatonin before speaking with a doctor.

Anxiety relieving techniques

In addition to medications, supplements, and therapies, you may be able to reduce your anxiety with some of these tips:

  • get regular exercise
  • practice slow, deep breathing
  • try to get a good night’s sleep each night
  • eat a healthful diet
  • identify and avoid triggers
  • find ways to distract yourself

Check this article for tips on finding the root cause of your anxiety.

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Melatonin is a generally safe and effective supplement for the treatment of anxiety. It’s available over the counter at most pharmacies and online.

Though you can get melatonin supplements easily, you should consider speaking with a doctor or other healthcare professional to identify possible issues with taking a new supplement.

Numerous studies reported only mild side effects from melatonin use that often resolved within a few days. If you experience side effects, you may want to consider discontinuing melatonin or speak with a doctor.

You may find you can take additional steps to help with anxiety. These can include:

  • exercise
  • a healthy diet
  • getting enough sleep
  • avoiding triggers

If you need more help with anxiety, you may find reaching out to a primary care physician a helpful first step. They often can refer or suggest local therapists who may be able to provide therapy.