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Melatonin Reduces Depression and Anxiety in Postmenopausal Women, Finds Study

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A recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Archives of Women’s Mental Health has found that melatonin supplementation can significantly reduce depression and anxiety in postmenopausal women. The study, led by Ahsen Demirhan Kayacik and Kevser İlcioglu from Sakarya University in Turkey, offers promising evidence for the use of melatonin as a therapeutic agent for mental health issues associated with menopause​​.

Due to hormonal changes, menopause is a significant transition in a woman’s life that frequently comes with a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. Depression and anxiety are particularly prevalent during this period, affecting women’s overall quality of life. Recognising the global increase in the population of postmenopausal women and the consequent rise in mental health issues, researchers aimed to explore potential treatments to alleviate these conditions​​.

The study conducted a comprehensive search of several electronic databases, including the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, ScienceDirect, Google Scholar, PubMed, Medline, Scopus, and Web of Science. The search focused on randomised controlled trials (RCTs) published between January 2000 and April 2023, examining the effects of melatonin supplementation on depression and anxiety in postmenopausal women​​.

Five RCTs met the inclusion criteria, comprising a total sample size of 441 participants. The studies were assessed for risk of bias using the Cochrane tool, and both fixed effect and random effect models were employed in the meta-analysis, depending on the level of heterogeneity​​.

Based on the meta-analysis, taking melatonin supplements significantly lowered depression in women who had gone through menopause, with an SMD of -0.166 and a confidence interval (CI) of -0.288 to -0.045. The results were statistically significant, with a p-value of less than 0.05​​.

Similarly, the analysis showed a significant improvement in anxiety levels among postmenopausal women who took melatonin, with an SMD of −0.806 and a CI of −1.491 to −0.120. These findings were also statistically significant, indicating that melatonin could be a viable treatment option for alleviating menopausal anxiety​​.

The findings of this study align with previous research indicating the beneficial effects of melatonin on mood disorders. The pineal gland’s endogenous hormone, melatonin, is essential for regulating the circadian sleep-wake cycle and mood. Age-related declines in melatonin production, particularly noticeable during perimenopause, contribute to sleep disturbances and increased risk of depression and anxiety​​.

The meta-analysis supports the potential of melatonin as a safe and effective treatment for depression and anxiety in postmenopausal women. However, the authors stress the need for more high-quality studies to confirm these findings and to better understand the long-term safety and efficacy of melatonin supplementation in this population​​.

While the study provides robust evidence, it also highlights certain limitations. The sample size across the included RCTs was relatively small, and there was notable heterogeneity in the study designs, durations, and dosages of melatonin used. Additionally, the included studies varied in their measurement tools for assessing depression and anxiety, which could influence the results​​.

Despite these limitations, the study’s findings contribute significantly to the growing body of literature on menopause-related mental health issues and the potential role of melatonin in mitigating these challenges​​.

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