Heart palpitations, sweaty palms, clammy hands, irrational fears and even trembling; these are all signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Many individuals across every country are adversely affected by the crippling effects of panic and anxiety. However, there are treatments available.
On a tangential yet altogether related note, conception, pregnancy, and childbirth are all wonderful yet painful facts of life for many women. The miracle of birth and the easement of anxiety have several surprising links. The connecting factor? A simple nonapeptide known as oxytocin.
Just how do these seemingly opposing conditions and events relate though? Studies throughout the years have illuminated much on both anxiety and childbirth. Originally isolated and identified in the early 1900s, oxytocin has shown much promise in treatments and easements towards both panic and labor.
An animal study in 1999 shed light on the effects of oxytocin on GABA, a neurotransmitter and neuronal system responsible for many of the side effects of anxiety. Additionally, another study in 2003 demonstrated the benefits that oxytocin provides during childbirth. Surprisingly, the colloquially known love hormone oxytocin may have strong correlations between the two.
In the study conducted in 1999, scientists observed the effects of oxytocin on the GABA system within pregnant and laboring rats. Throughout the study, the levels of oxytocin and the activity of GABA systems within the rats were recorded. The researchers found positive links between labor, oxytocin, and GABA activity.
The study in 2003 investigated the role of oxytocin and oxytocin receptors during childbirth. Through a thorough analysis of gestating and birthing animals and women, the researchers determined that oxytocin signaled various systems to induce labor. In essence, oxytocin levels rose, as did dilation and the delivery of the child.
These studies show promising links towards oxytocin in pregnancy, anxiety, and childbirth. Through the study on rats in 1999, it can be concluded that oxytocin facilitates the modulation of GABA systems. GABA, being intimately related to anxiety and inhibition responses, is often the key to treating panic disorders. Through the use of natural oxytocin, individuals may be able to quell anxiety in a way similar to benzodiazepines. However, oxytocin does not have the addiction potential of benzodiazepines.
Oxytocin use may present benefits beyond anxiety relief. As the study in 2003 indicated, oxytocin is released naturally to induce and ease labor. Higher levels of it are correlated with important, intimate life events. It appears that oxytocin causes the emotional link between mother and child, while also inducing labor. Therefore, oxytocin supplementation may be able to ease labor, and make the experience much less unpleasant.