Study considers Oxytocin as treatment option for psychiatric disorders


A review article in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry surveys the role of the hormone oxytocin as a treatment for psychiatric disorders like autism and schizophrenia.

According to the research review, oxytocin is an important regulator of human social behaviors, along with its other biological effects. The study, lead by Dr. David Cochran of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, discusses preliminary evidence for oxytocin as a treatment for some mental health diagnosis.

Encouraging evidence

Preliminary findings are especially good for disorders involving impaired social function. Cochran and colleagues found evidence that oxytocin is involved in social decision-making, evaluation and response to social stimuli, mediating social interactions, and more.

Based on these effects, researchers have suspected that oxytocin may be a common factor in certain psychiatric disorders. The reviewers analyze the evidence for oxytocin's involvement in specific disorders.

Some studies cited in this overview study have reported a "dysfunction in oxytocin processing" in children (although not necessarily adults) with autism and related disorders. There's also evidence that genes affecting oxytocin – such as the oxytocin receptor gene, OXTR – may be involved in the development of autism spectrum disorders.


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