November 25, 2022

New review of melatonin supplementation and depression

Depression is a major cause of disease burden worldwide which affects approximately 350 million people. Although there are numerous medications for the treatment of depression, less than 50% of patients take medications for depression.

According to a new review published last month in Behavior Brain Research, researchers investigated the effects of melatonin supplementation on brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) concentration and clinical depressive disorder.

This review consisted of 23 studies including 1,934 individuals over 18 years of age that assessed the effect of melatonin supplementation on serum concentration of BDNF or depression score.

Overall, melatonin supplementation did not demonstrate a significant effect on BDNF concentration but it improved depression by decreasing the score. The subgroup analysis showed that melatonin supplementation did have a significant decreasing effect on BDNF levels in doses ≤ 10mg/day with more than 4 weeks of duration in men.

This review demonstrates that melatonin supplementation has a decreasing effect on depression in all duration of studies and doses. Melatonin provides a protective effect on depressive symptoms as sleep disturbance is an independent risk factor in its development or recurrence. In addition, melatonin supplementation normalizes circadian rhythms and improves sleep disturbances and acts as an antidepressant by stabilizing NMDA receptor activity. Also, altered distribution of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in patients with depression is associated with raised amounts of early REM sleep and decreased sleep onset latency to REM sleep. Treatment with melatonin has been shown to prolong the duration of non-rapid eye movement sleep without affecting REM sleep.

Other nutrients to consider include essential fatty acids as most individuals are often deficient. Fish oils are essential for one’s overall health and reduce inflammation. 

Also, some natural alternatives to anti-depressants include Sceletium tortuosum and Saffron flower. Sceletium tortuosum has attracted increasing attention over past few decades for promoting a sense of wellbeing and treating depression andSaffron flower has had numerous studies demonstrating positive outcomes on MDD and has gone head to head with SSRIs demonstrating the same efficacy.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Shokri-Mashhadi-N, Darand M, et al. Effects of melatonin supplementation on BDNF concentrations and depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Behav Brain Res. 2022 Aug 29;114083.