The Connection: Melatonin, Happiness, And Depression

Updated August 5, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

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Melatonin is becoming increasingly well known as a sleep supplement, but did you know that when melatonin levels are raised at night, someone with depression may also have improved depression symptoms, lower depression overall, and a better mood during the day? 

A good night’s sleep can make all the difference when it comes to treating depression, and because the effect that melatonin has on the body plays an essential role in sleep, this hormone can be incredibly important for reducing depression symptoms.

The effect of melatonin on sleep has been studied for many years, and at this point, it is widely accepted as a reliable sleep supplement. However, the effects on depression have been studied comparatively little; nonetheless, the effect of melatonin on happiness and overall improved mood is evident to many people who have done this treatment for any period of time.

The effects can be fairly significant or can be fairly subtle, so the results of studies into the effect of melatonin on mood and thought patterns have varied greatly. This article will explore the effects of the drug as a sleep enhancer, but also treatment for depression and the effect on mood and daytime energy.

What the Effect of Melatonin Is in the Body

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that regulates sleeping and waking. The effect of levels changing in the evening is that your body starts to feel tired and it will tell you when it’s time to go to sleep (and also when it’s time to wake up). The melatonin secretion is regulated by both your circadian rhythms (the body’s built-in “clock”) and by the amount of light in the environment at any given time of the day. Around sunset, when the light outside starts to diminish, the pineal gland begins to secrete melatonin and your body prepares for sleep. Its levels rise for a few hours until you fall asleep, when they remain high until morning when the sun rises, at which point the melatonin effect decreases as serotonin levels rise and you start to wake up.

Melatonin is produced naturally by the body, but we can also obtain exogenous melatonin from foods and from supplements. The melatonin effect that comes from food may be somewhat different from the effect that comes from a nutritional supplement. Foods that are high in exogenous melatonin include rice, barley, strawberries, tomatoes, walnuts, dairy milk, cherries, and olives, among others. (It’s important to note that over 65% of the global population is lactose intolerant, so a glass of milk is not a solution for everyone.) It gives your brain what it needs to kick start the process of falling asleep. Thus, many of these foods have the potential to trigger the chemical in the body under the right circumstances, so avoiding them if you’re already feeling tired might be a good idea.

Many people choose to take an exogenous melatonin supplement to support healthy sleep patterns during international travel or at times when they struggle to sleep. It can help people overcome jet lag quickly and effectively has been more thoroughly studied and is well proven. The jet lag effect is comparatively profound, and a large group of people experienced an improved mood during international travel because they were able to sleep well no matter what.

The effect depression has not yet been exceptionally well studied, but there are still a few studies available that take a look at not only depression but also on other related disorders. Let’s take a look at the differing opinions of the effect on the body and happiness.

The Effect of Melatonin on Depression and the Body

The key thing to remember when taking exogenous melatonin supplements is that your reaction will vary, especially at first. While the effect of melatonin treatment can over time reduce depression levels, at first higher melatonin levels may actually temporarily increase depression symptoms as your body readjusts to having more melatonin available to use. If you take exogenous melatonin during the daytime or if you eat foods that are very high in melatonin during waking hours, your depression symptoms may increase slightly because of the tranquilizing effect of melatonin. However, if you take exogenous melatonin only at night immediately before bed, the effect of melatonin is that you may notice better sleep and thus a better mood overall as a “side effect” of melatonin.

Another essential thing to keep in mind when beginning exogenous melatonin treatment is that sleep, depression, and happiness are all interconnected and that it’s the interaction of different hormones in the body that produces a wakeful, cheerful state of mind during the day. Only paying attention to the production and effect of one hormone, such as the effect of treatment, won’t necessarily have the desired effect. Supplementing with exogenous melatonin while also ensuring that your other waking activities support the production of other essential “happiness hormones” is the best way to boost happiness and reduce depression while using the treatment as a base. The effect can be either dramatic or subtle, so keep close tabs on yourself when you start treatment.Some people, in contrast, may experience increased levels of anxiety when they first start exogenous melatonin treatment. However, this side effect of treatment (short-lasting anxiety) isn’t particularly common in most of the population. If you experience increased depression while taking supplements for depression, communicate with a healthcare professional for advice and information on dosage and type of supplement. It’s important to be aware that the effect can vary for every person.

How To Treat Depression?

There has been a lot of controversy around the effect of melatonin on depression. Some studies claim that exogenous melatonin treatment played a role in reducing depression symptoms while other studies showed that melatonin treatment actually increased depression in certain situations. While one rare side effect of melatonin is actually short-term depression, the real question is whether or not melatonin treatment creates problems over the long term for depression patients, or if melatonin treatment is beneficial to these individuals. Here we’ll take a look at the findings of these studies when it comes to the effect of melatonin treatment on depression symptoms.

Claim 1: Melatonin treatment increases depression symptoms

Some studies say that the effect of melatonin treatment on depression is negative. While the effect of melatonin itself isn’t necessarily negative, the belief in this claim is that the melatonin levels in the brains of people with depression symptoms are too high, and thus, that increased melatonin may either a) not help, or b) make symptoms worse. The effect of melatonin treatment is that it reduces energy levels, increases sleepiness, and (in some cases) decreases concentration abilities when melatonin levels are high in the body. These are all perfectly normal experiences when you’re trying to fall asleep, but if this effect of melatonin carries over into waking hours then melatonin treatment can produce some issues.

In a 2004 study, exogenous melatonin treatment was said to be a likely cause for an increase in depression symptoms rather than a decrease due to the similarities between the effect of melatonin on the body and generalized depression symptoms. In a 2006 study, higher melatonin levels were speculated to be excreted in the brains of individuals with depression. Nonetheless, although some people in rare cases have cited short term depression as a side effect of melatonin treatment, this is somewhat unusual and conclusions have not been drawn as to whether or not exogenous melatonin can aggravate depression symptoms or not.

Claim 2: Melatonin treatment decreases depression symptoms

To contrast the studies noted before, other studies have been done to demonstrate the treatment on decreasing depression symptoms as well. Depression is a complex psychological affliction that can have many different causes, and since the effect on the body is equally as complex, it’s no surprise that there are many differing opinions and findings on depression symptoms.

One study done in 2018 suggested that one of the core causes of depression relates to sleep disruption and issues with circadian rhythms. Thus, the conclusion was drawn that the effect of melatonin treatment on the body of balancing circadian rhythms and encouraging healthy sleep patterns would be beneficial to treating depression patients. Indeed, the study demonstrated that the effect of melatonin on depression is positive in some cases, in that melatonin treatment successfully reduced depression symptoms in some patients.

Can melatonin treatment make you happy?

Looking for a Powerful Melatonin Boost to Feel Happier?

While one effect of melatonin is decreased energy, this doesn’t necessarily mean that exogenous melatonin causes depression or unhappiness. Whereas depression and low energy may go hand in hand, low energy is only a symptom of depression, not the disorder itself. Many people report that an effect of melatonin is subsequent happiness during the day; getting a good night of sleep can make a huge difference in your mood during the day, after all. When your brain has an opportunity to rest, it can clear out old and unnecessary thoughts and make room for new, happier, healthier thoughts. The effect of melatonin is that you have the right balance of hormones available in your body to fall asleep quickly and easily.Melatonin treatment is used to treat depression, addiction, anxiety, insomnia, and a variety of other disorders with a relative degree of success. But although melatonin treatment is quite effective, many people wonder if happiness is really an effect of melatonin treatment. Exogenous melatonin is a popular sleep aid that works wonderfully to aid healthy sleep patterns, but can it really improve your mood?

The effect of melatonin supplements at night on happiness levels during the day may not be well proven scientifically, but personal experiences abound. Numerous individuals have reported that the effect of melatonin in their lives has been significant and that they’ve had higher levels of energy and greater focus since they’ve started supplementing with melatonin. While prolonged use may not produce the most positive results, the effect of melatonin over a shorter period of time as a targeted supplement can be extremely beneficial and can certainly improve overall mood and productivity.

How to Take Melatonin

Exogenous melatonin supplements come in many forms, many of which can be found easily at pharmacies or natural food stores. The most popular forms of exogenous melatonin include capsule pills, chewable tablets, liquid syrups, and lozenges, and the levels per unit range from one to 10 milligrams per serving. The effect of supplements can be useful not only for treating depression but also for getting over jet lag quickly and for remedying shift-work sleep problems and regular insomnia. The effect when it comes in the form of a supplement will vary depending on the quantity and quality of exogenous melatonin in the supplements, and also on the other ingredients in the product.

Most experts recommend taking exogenous melatonin between 30-60 minutes before you plan to turn your lights out and go to sleep so that you have time to “wind down” and fall asleep in a normal way. It is soothing, relaxing, and calming, so you’re likely to start feeling sleepy not too long after taking it. After taking an exogenous melatonin supplement to raise levels, make sure to only do activities that are relaxing and those that prepare you for sleep; reading, journaling, and meditating are all excellent examples of pre-sleep activities that support healthy rest and a positive mood the next day when you wake up, and they also support the effect in the body. The effect of treatment will only be effective if you make an honest effort to relax and sleep.

An important thing to remember is that the effect can be reduced in environments with a great deal of light. For that reason, to maximize the effect of melatonin supplements, make sure that you rest in a dimly lit room before sleep, avoid electronic devices, and turn out all the lights before sleeping. The effect is sensitive to light and other energizing hormones, so create a restful environment to be in before you take a supplement.

Potential Side Effects of Melatonin Treatment

Exogenous melatonin is generally a very gentle sleep aid and depression treatment, but for some people, its effect can be unusual, especially at first. Here are some of the most common potential side effects of treatment:

  • Nightmares – Some people may have more vivid dreams or even nightmares when they first start taking exogenous melatonin. A dosage adjustment may sometimes help remedy this effect of melatonin.
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Nausea (in higher doses this can be an effect of melatonin)
  • Irritability (usually due to the tranquilizing effect of melatonin, irritability may increase)
  • Stomach pains (this is a less common effect of melatonin)

It is also important to check with a doctor before undertaking exogenous melatonin treatment if you’re currently on prescription medication. Its effect on different drugs or medications can vary, and so it’s important to be aware of the potential effects before starting treatment. This variety can specifically have negative interactions with the following types of medications:

  • Contraceptive medications
  • Diabetes medications
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Anticoagulants and antiplatelet medications
  • Anticonvulsants
  • And some others…

Exogenous melatonin treatment may also interact with certain antibiotics, dietary or herbal supplements, steroid medications, and pain and anti-inflammatory medications. Its effect changes in the body depending on physiology as well as which other constituents are present in the body. Always consult with a healthcare professional if you’re on any type of chronic medication before starting a new supplement of any kind.

The effect can be very powerful or very subtle depending on the person so it’s important to be in contact with a professional (such as your doctor) before starting treatment.


The effect of melatonin on the body can be truly profound and amazing, and there’s no denying the value of quality rest on improving overall mood. Melatonin not only aids sleep, but it can also help you feel more awake and alert during the day. This article took a look at the effect of melatonin on the body and brain in relation to some studies on depression and happiness, but there’s still a lot to be studied in regard to the effect of melatonin. This is a comparatively understudied hormone with incredible effects.

If you’re struggling with depression or insomnia and you believe that the effect of melatonin may be just what you’re looking for, contact one of our licensed therapists at BetterHelp today. A licensed therapist can help you develop healthy tools to give you better sleep and reduce any depression symptoms.

Questions People Often Ask About Melatonin / Depression

Does taking melatonin cause depression?
Can melatonin act as an antidepressant?
Is melatonin good for anxiety and depression?
Can melatonin improve mood?
Can melatonin worsen anxiety?
Does melatonin lower serotonin?
Does melatonin convert back to serotonin?
Does melatonin deplete dopamine?
Does melatonin contain serotonin?
Is melatonin addicting?

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