Is Melatonin Treatment Effective for Tardive Dyskinesia?
J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(8):556-558
© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Background: Tardive dyskinesia is a
severe and disabling side effect of conventional antipsychotic
treatment, with incidence rates reaching a high of 50% in
chronically institutionalized populations. On the basis of recent
studies showing some benefit of antioxidants, we evaluated the
effect of melatonin, the most potent naturally occurring
antioxidant, on tardive dyskinesia in patients with chronic
Method: Nineteen patients (8 men, 11
women), aged a mean ± SD 74.0 ± 9.5 years with chronic DSM-IV
schizophrenia of 31.3 ± 7.0 years' duration, were randomly
assigned in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial
to receive slow-release melatonin, 2 mg/day, or placebo for 4
weeks. After a 2-week washout period, the patients were switched
to the other treatment arm for an additional 4 weeks. The
Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) was administered at
baseline, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, and 10 weeks. Regular administration
of antipsychotic and other medications was kept unchanged
throughout the study.
Results: Mean AIMS scores did not change
significantly from baseline in either treatment arm. All patients
completed the study, and there were no side effects or adverse
Conclusion: Supraphysiologic doses of melatonin
do not positively affect tardive dyskinesia. Considering that
melatonin is a safe drug, further studies are needed of higher
doses and in patients with shorter disease duration before its
use in the treatment of tardive dyskinesia is ruled out.