Social contact, friend-making, and courting are all behaviors that are fundamental to humans and all other mammals alike. However, these basic actions don’t flow as easily for some. In humans and animals, anxiety and attachment disorders can form. Sometimes, they may feel permanent and pervasive.
Medications and treatments exist for such conditions. Anti-anxiety drugs, such as alprazolam and diazepam are often prescribed for these. These prescription drugs often come with several side effects and impairments though. There is also a high probability of addiction and dependence when these substances are used. There is a natural, non-habit forming alternative though. It’s the love drug, oxytocin.
Research into the love hormone, oxytocin, has been profoundly extensive over the past century. In 1999, a team of researchers explored the effects that oxytocin has on prairie voles. Prairie voles are well regarded for their highly selective and long-lasting bonds between mates. Often times, voles mate for life, making them an ideal candidate for observing the actions of oxytocin.
The researchers administered oxytocin to female voles, and recorded the results. After being injected with oxytocin for 5 days, the voles demonstrated higher affinities for pair bonding and mating. It appeared that oxytocin simulated and enhanced the usual patterns of mating.
Oxytocin has also been researched in humans. In 2017, a team of researchers looked into oxytocin’s effects when administered intranasally. The team devised a simulation of sorts, that would record and test trust across individuals. They were exposed to strangers and family members.
Of course, higher levels of trust were noted when the subjects were tested against family members. Likewise, they indicated distrust of strangers. However, when the test subjects were administered oxytocin through a nasal spray, they showed higher levels of trust between family and strangers. The placebo control group didn’t indicate such increases in trust, maintaining apprehension and skepticism.
These studies imply many benefits and uses of oxytocin. While oxytocin is usually thought of as a hormone that facilitates pregnancy, labor, and maternal bonding, the prior studies show that it may have much more potential. Oxytocin may be able to treat anxiety disorders, attachment problems, and provide sexual and relational enhancement.
In the 1999 study, researchers demonstrated links between oxytocin levels and higher bonding rates within voles. It appeared that oxytocin levels and propensity to mate were directly proportional, or rather that higher oxytocin concentrations led to greater mating desires and success. Furthermore, the 2017 study showed that oxytocin directly influenced the tendency to build trust in humans.
Conclusively, these findings show that oxytocin may be able to promote sociability in humans. Through the positive influencing of sociability, anxiety and related disorders may be mitigated and controlled. Oxytocin may be able to ease social bonding, making acquaintanceships, friendships, and relationships easier to build and maintain.