Melatonin based therapies for delirium and dementia

Discov Med. 2016 May;21(117):363-71.


Melatonin levels have been shown to decline with aging. Melatonin and its analogs in addition to their effect on sleep promotion, has been shown to have multiple pleiotropic effects. It can also help with neuroprotection through different mechanisms. Evidence in animal and human studies suggests that low levels of melatonin have been linked to delirium, mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and with certain behavioral problems. Recent clinical trials have showed that both melatonin and its analogs may be useful in the prevention, treatment of delirium, and the management of dementia. These medications seem to have the advantage of less side effects and better safety profile when compared to antipsychotics and sedatives like benzodiazepines. These medications are available over the counter in North America, Europe, and Asia, and some of these medications are approved by FDA. This manuscript will discuss the promising role of these melatonergic medications alone or in combination with other medications for the management of Geriatric Psychiatric diseases like delirium and dementia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzodiazepines / adverse effects
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use
  • Chronobiology Phenomena / physiology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Delirium / blood
  • Delirium / drug therapy*
  • Dementia / blood
  • Dementia / drug therapy*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Galantamine / pharmacology
  • Galantamine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Indenes / pharmacology
  • Indenes / therapeutic use
  • Melatonin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Melatonin / physiology
  • Memantine / pharmacology
  • Memantine / therapeutic use
  • Neuroprotection / drug effects
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Indenes
  • Galantamine
  • Benzodiazepines
  • ramelteon
  • Melatonin
  • Memantine