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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001 Nov;58(11):1049-52.

Melatonin treatment for tardive dyskinesia: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.

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  • 1Abarbanel Mental Health Center, 15 KKL St, Bat-Yam 59100, Israel.



Antipsychotics remain the mainstay of drug intervention in the management of schizophrenia. However, long-term treatment with antipsychotics is associated with a variety of movement disorders, the most disabling of which is tardive dyskinesia (TD), which occurs in up to 50% of patients hospitalized with chronic schizophrenia. The pathophysiology of TD is still unclear and no definite treatment exists. Both dopamine receptor supersensitivity and oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity in the nigrostriatal system are apparently implicated. The pineal hormone melatonin is a potent antioxidant and attenuates dopaminergic activity in the striatum and dopamine release from the hypothalamus. Thus, it may have a beneficial effect for both the treatment and prevention of TD.


Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, we evaluated the efficacy of 10 mg/d of melatonin for 6 weeks in 22 patients with schizophrenia and TD. The primary outcome measure was the change from baseline in Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) score.


The decrease (mean +/- SD) in AIMS score was 2.45 +/- 1.92 for the melatonin and 0.77 +/- 1.11 for the placebo treatment groups (P<.001). No adverse events or side effects were noted.


This is the first clinical evidence for efficacy of melatonin in the treatment of TD.

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