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Melatonin and tardive dyskinesia

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL. Tardive dyskinesia is a common side effect of treatment with antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol (Haldol) and chlorpromazine (Largatil). The disorder manifests itself through involuntary muscle movements especially in the face and limbs. Schizophrenia patients are often treated with antipsychotics and it is estimated that about 50 per cent of all hospitalized schizophrenics suffer from tardive dyskinesia (TD).

Israeli researchers now report that supplementation with melatonin markedly reduces TD symptoms. Their double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study involved 22 patients (aged 22 to 82 years) who had suffered from schizophrenia for an average of 23.5 years. Most of the patients (60 per cent) were being treated with haloperidol and all had symptoms of TD. The patients were given 10 mg of melatonin (controlled release) or placebo at 8 p.m. every night for six weeks. After a four-week wash-out period the placebo patients received melatonin and vice versa for another six weeks. The melatonin supplementation resulted in an average 24 per cent improvement in TD score in the melatonin group versus 8 per cent in the control group. Improvements of 30 per cent or more were noted in nine of the 22 patients treated with melatonin. The researchers believe that the benefits of melatonin are related to its potent antioxidant activity and its ability to reduce dopaminergic activity in the brain.
Shamir, Eyal, et al. Melatonin treatment for tardive dyskinesia. Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 58, November 2001, pp. 1049-52
Glazer, William M., et al. Should Sisyphus have taken melatonin? Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 58, November 2001, pp. 1054-55 (commentary)

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