Over the past century, the understanding of the brain and its subsequent processes and disorders have been closely scrutinized and researched. It’s estimated that around 20% of the world population struggles with illnesses associated with the brain. Millions worldwide suffer from one, if not many, mental disorders. Anxiety, depression, OCD, developmental disorders, and numerous others seem to be increasingly common.
Other relevant research has pointed to several treatments, and some purported cures. In the form of prescription drugs, therapy styles, diets, and so on, there have been many attempts at treating mental illnesses. A commonly looked over one is oxytocin. This neuropeptide, known commonly as a love drug, may be of use in treating such disorders.
Oxytocin’s usefulness and efficacy has been studied in numerous experiments. Early experiments have determined the pharmacology and mechanisms behind it; later studies have looked into potential enhancing and medicinal oxytocin uses. Discovered in the early 20th century by C. Sue Carter, oxytocin has since been under thorough research.
C. Sue Carter’s research endeavors opened up the world of hormonal and neurochemical therapies. Since her isolation and realization of oxytocin’s functions, scientists have looked into potential therapies surrounding it. Some have noted it decreasing apprehension and opening up individuals to others.Others have seen its potential to treat developmental disorders, such as autism.
After about a century of being discovered, researchers found links between oxytocin and the development of trust. Trust, a complicated social function in and of itself, was observed to have increased in one trial on oxytocin’s effects. In essence, researchers developed an investment game meant to gauge trust in volunteers. Those who received intranasally administered oxytocin supplement appeared to have higher levels of trust.
Another study, conducted in 2018, found that oxytocin may have some use in treating developmental disorders, such as autism. In the study, subjects who were diagnosed as having a developmental disorder were administered oxytocin. Improvements in sociability and interpersonal connections were noted for up to 2 weeks afterwards.
These findings have numerous implications, pointing towards oxytocin’s efficacy in treating mental disorders. In the 2008 study on trust and oxytocin, findings appeared to show a link between oxytocin and heightened levels of trust. This may be of use to individuals suffering from anxiety and depression, possibly decreasing social and personal biases and barriers.
Furthermore, the recent study on oxytocin and autism pointed to more specific benefits. Autism leads to mild or severe social impairment, rendering the forming and maintaining of relationships almost impossible. By the end of the study, subjects displayed temporarily higher interpersonal skills. If oxytocin is capable of providing such benefits to individuals with such fundamental impairments, it may be able to provide them to others with less severe ones.
In conclusion, oxytocin is a complex neuropeptide. The oxytocin transmitter has a large scope of roles within the body. When administered in addition to natural levels, it may have increased positive effects.