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Melatonin May Reduce Risk for Intentional Self-Harm in Female Teens

Risk for self-harm reduced after initiation of melatonin, especially among adolescents with depression/anxiety

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 3, 2023 (HealthDay News) — For female adolescents with psychiatric disorders, melatonin use is associated with a reduced risk for intentional self-harm, according to a study published online March 23 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Marica Leone, Ph.D., from Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and the Karolinska Institutet, both in Solna, Sweden, and colleagues conducted a population-based cohort study including 25,575 youths who initiated melatonin treatment between ages 6 and 18 years. The rate of injuries was examined in the year prior to and following initiation of melatonin treatment.

The researchers found that the rates of body injuries, falls, and transport accidents were comparable in the year prior to and after medication initiation, but the risk for self-harm was highest in the months immediately preceding initiation of melatonin and decreased thereafter. Among adolescents with depression and/or anxiety, this was particularly prominent, with greater absolute risks for girls versus boys. Decreased relative risks for self-harm were seen in the 12 months after medication initiation compared with the last unmedicated month, with an incidence rate ratio of 0.46 in the month following treatment initiation among adolescent girls with psychiatric disorders, after excluding antidepressant users.

“There is currently a youth mental health crisis, and the risk of self-harm and suicide is high,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Our findings support the hypothesis that sleep interventions may reduce self-harm in this population, especially in girls.”

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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