While post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are often treated with medication like antidepressants, research demonstrates oxytocin can have a similar effect. Could oxytocin—the hormone we produce while cuddling, making love and petting our dog—be a powerful natural remedy?
With sensitive bodies and minds, humans are susceptible to getting hurt, and many of them stay in pain for years on end. An exceptionally traumatic event—whether it’s a car accident or a war-zone bombing—can disrupt an individual’s perception of the world, hijacking their everyday sense of safety. In a scientific article published by the European Journal of Psychotraumatology, research demonstrated a possible link between PTSD recovery and the oxytocin system as a basis for reducing the stress response. Specifically, the article referenced the importance of experiencing a feeling of bonding during the treatment process via social support—which could explain the powerful impact of group therapy sessions that encourage interpersonal connection and intimate story sharing.
Oxytocin’s impact on talk therapy
Another study investigated the link between oxytocin, “social sharing,” and trauma recovery. The research demonstrated that upon giving an adult male a dose of neuropeptide oxytocin (OT), researchers observed that while it didn’t make them more talkative, it increased the participant’s willingness to share emotions about a negative event. These findings look especially hopeful for men, since they tend to be less inclined than women to share their emotions. As expressing emotions are key in the therapeutic process of social sharing, the study suggested that oxytocin could amplify the effects of talk therapy, for example.
Do you want to talk about it?
Research surrounding the effect of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” confirms the age-old wisdom behind the question we often ask our loved ones: Do you want to talk about it? While social awareness around the importance of mental health is rising, action is still required to support a more mentally safe, rehabilitative society. To make a difference in the lives of those who suffer from psychological trauma, it could be as simple as practicing active listening when they begin to open up about a particularly difficult experience, perhaps in hope that someone will lend an ear to help them process their emotions.