This article explores the potential benefits of using melatonin as a treatment option for self-harm in children.

We delve into the research behind melatonin, its effects on the brain, and how it could potentially help children struggling with self-harm.


Self-harm in children is a complex issue that can have significant mental and physical health consequences.

It is a distressing behavior that is often indicative of underlying psychological issues, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma.

Traditional treatments for self-harm in children include cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and medication. However, researchers have recently begun to explore the potential benefits of melatonin in alleviating self-harm in children.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. Its primary function is to regulate sleep and wake cycles, but it also has antioxidant properties and can help reduce inflammation in the body. Melatonin is available in supplement form and is commonly used as a sleep aid.

How Does Melatonin Work?

Melatonin works by interacting with receptors in the brain that regulate sleep-wake cycles. It helps to regulate the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural internal clock that controls sleep and wake cycles.

Melatonin levels typically rise in the evening, signaling to the body that it’s time to sleep. Melatonin supplements can be used to help regulate sleep-wake cycles in people who have trouble sleeping or experience jet lag.

The Role of Melatonin in Self-Harm

There is growing interested in the potential role of melatonin in reducing self-harm in children. Researchers believe that melatonin may help reduce self-harm by regulating sleep patterns and improving mood.

Studies have shown that individuals who engage in self-harm often have disrupted sleep patterns and irregular circadian rhythms. By regulating sleep-wake cycles, melatonin may help reduce the incidence of self-harm.

Additionally, melatonin has been shown to have antidepressant and anxiolytic effects, which could also help reduce self-harm behaviors.

Melatonin has been found to increase levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and emotions. Individuals with depression and anxiety often have lower levels of serotonin, and increasing serotonin levels can improve mood and reduce symptoms of these disorders.

Research on Melatonin and Self-Harm in Children

Although there is limited research on the use of melatonin for self-harm in children specifically, there are some promising findings.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that melatonin supplementation improved sleep quality and reduced self-harm behaviors in adolescents with a borderline personality disorder.

Another study found that melatonin supplementation reduced self-harm behaviors in individuals with depression.

It is important to note that melatonin is not a cure for self-harm and should only be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider before starting melatonin supplementation, as it can interact with certain medications and may not be appropriate for everyone.


Self-harm in children is a complex issue that requires a comprehensive approach to treatment. While melatonin shows promise as a potential treatment option for self-harm, more research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness and safety.

It is important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting melatonin supplementation, as it can interact with certain medications and may not be appropriate for everyone.

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