An observational study led by Dr Sarah Bergen at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, suggests that medical sleep treatment, specifically the use of melatonin, may reduce self-harm in young people with anxiety and depression. The study examined over 25,500 children and teenagers aged 6 to 18 who were prescribed melatonin in Sweden, with over 87 percent having at least one psychiatric disorder. Self-harm was found to be five times more common in girls than boys, but the risk decreased by about half in the months following the initiation of treatment.
While the study cannot establish a causal relationship between melatonin and reduced self-harm rates, it supports the hypothesis that sleep interventions may reduce self-harm in young people with anxiety and depression, particularly in girls. The research was financed by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and the results were published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Publication: ”Melatonin use and the risk of self-harm and unintentional injuries in youths with and without psychiatric disorders”, The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry