The “Love Hormone” Oxytocin Used In Anxiety Treatment
Date : Apr 01, 2020
Author : Alexander B
Categories : Health Care
Oxytocin is an important hormone and neurotransmitter. It is produced in the hypothalamus, and its levels are usually higher within females as compared to males. Oxytocin is being referred to as the “love hormone” because of its rising levels during hugging and orgasm.
Apart from its involvement in many different body functions, Oxytocin has also been found effective in the treatment of many health issues, including depression. But science also suggests that Oxytocin can also be used as a potential treatment method for anxiety as well.
Oxytocin could potentially help treat anxiety, science suggests
Oxytocin has, for the longest time now, been known as the warm, fuzzy hormone that makes us feel better, relaxed, and happy. It has been associated with wonderous things such as breastfeeding and orgasm, so it is only natural to think that it can be used to fight something as dangerous as anxiety. And that is exactly what many researchers have been trying to investigate for the longest time now.
A study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, back in 2015, suggested that Oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone,” can be potentially used in the treatment of anxiety, one of the most common mood disorders. The researchers investigated the potential anxiety-reducing effects of Oxytocin and its ability to treat anxiety in individuals who struggle with a generalized social anxiety disorder and in those with stable mental health without a trace of anxiety. They were also curious to find out whether or not Oxytocin can also promote social behaviors such as trust, empathy, and even openness to social risk.
But in order to investigate the anxiety-relieving abilities of Oxytocin, the researchers also focused on its influence on the amygdala. Previous studies have confirmed to be less reactive to pictures of threatening faces under the influence of Oxytocin. Now, the researchers were examining how Oxytocin affects the connections between the amygdala and other brain parts in people with a confirmed anxiety disorder.
When the participants have been shown pictures of fearful faces, visibly less significant communication between the amygdala and the other brain parts has been seen in those struggling with a generalized social anxiety disorder. The less connected their amygdala was, the higher the anxiety levels were.
However, under the influence of Oxytocin, the connection between the amygdala and the other brain parts improved, thus reliving the present anxiety signs and symptoms. It is worth mentioning that in those who have not been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, Oxytocin has reduced their amygdala connectivity. More research needs to be done.
Another older study published back in 2007 also demonstrated the positive effects of Oxytocin on social behaviors, with a focus on overall psychological stability. The study was done on mice and not human subjects; however, it did reveal the ability of Oxytocin to reduce the anxiety levels among the participants.
Another animal study was done to observe how an Oxytocin spray would influence the mice’s stress levels in both stressed and non-stressed mice. The study delivered clear proof that there is a noticeable difference in the effects of Oxytocin in female and male mice. While in male mice, both stressed and non-stressed, Oxytocin efficiently reduced their anxiety levels and boosted their social motivation, in female mice, the results were different. For the stressed mice, Oxytocin did nothing to reduce their anxiety, whereas, within the non-stressed mice, it reduced their social motivation. This study certainly does boost the researcher’s curiosity.