Our body produces melatonin on its own. Melatonin has the biological purpose of regulating the sleep-wake cycle, inducing sleep, and gets the body to relax after the efforts of the day.
Insomnia caused by an irregular sleep-wake cycle is cured with a melatonin oral intake in the form of a dietary supplement. It is a quite easy product of synthesis with not particular negative side effects, if taken in the prescribed quantity and only in the evening before bedtime.
However, insomnia is not the only disorder for which to take melatonin. Indeed, its interaction with the sleep mechanism can also lead to an improvement in anxiety states.
Let’s learn when melatonin may be useful to improve anxiety.
What is anxiety?
To understand how melatonin can help to reduce anxiety, you should define it. It is a mental condition characterized by a strong concern or fear concerning one specific stimulus to which the organism is not able to adapt and against which it makes a number of physical changes typical of stress.
It should be noted that anxiety, unlike fear, does not have a defensive function for the organism. It instead activates a series of mechanisms that “alert us” to tackle problems that often are not at all so or, anyway, they are perceived as more serious than they actually are.
Anxiety has very specific effects on the organism: it just prepares to face a hypothetical danger. Some effects of anxiety are: an increase in blood flow to the muscles, heart rate and breathing rate, in secretion of cortisol by the adrenal glands and in muscle tone. These are all helpful mechanisms if you have to combat or escape from a dangerous situation. On the contrary, in a condition of anxiety they are often not so necessary and therefore we are talking about anxiety disorder.
There are currently no medicines or natural substances able to eliminate anxious state. Anxiolytics avoid the emergence of the mechanism of anxiety and the associated body’s changes, but they do not eliminate the cause of the disorder. If we want to intervene directly on the cause and remove it, we must resort to a course of psychotherapy. Drugs are then able to relieve symptoms while supporting psychological therapy.
Relationship between anxiety and sleep mechanism.
Sleep is affected negatively by anxiety, making it difficult to fall asleep.
Sleep has effects opposite to those of anxiety. For example, it reduces the flow of blood to the limbs, slows the respiratory and heart rate. Sleep minimizes the symptoms of anxiety especially when anxiety occurs during the night. The nocturnal anxiety, in fact, involves muscles tightening and an awakening characterized by pain that worsens the anxiety symptomatology.
Melatonin for anxiety attacks.
Melatonin is indicated in nocturnal anxiety states. An integration of melatonin at the end of the day stimulates the mechanism of falling asleep, activating the parasympathetic nervous system that counteracts the effects of anxiety.
Take melatonin strictly when you go to bed. Avoid interacting with electronic devices and create an environment with right temperature and lights off. This should ensure a deep and restful sleep without nocturnal awakenings, and reduces anxiety.
The integration must be prolonged because melatonin acts “forcing” your body to relax. It may be prescribed even in the early stages of psychotherapy to combat anxiety that grips the patient.
However, melatonin should not be used as an anxiolytic because it is not a drug and it does not act in the same way. If taken during the day, it causes drowsiness, reacting negatively on the sleep-wake cycle and preventing night rest.
So, if anxiety attacks occur during the day, melatonin is of no help.
In any case, melatonin therapy must always be associated with specific medical therapy to prevent anxiety from appearing again after stopping the integration.