Doctors Administer Oxytocin Nasal Spray to Lonely People

We might like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, but the fact is that the entire experience of being human is fundamentally the result of a set of chemicals swirling around in the brain.

Concrete example ? A team of European and Israeli doctors has just published an intriguing study, published in the journal Psychomer Psychosomin which they administered oxytocin – it’s the much-publicized feel-good hormone that is released by physical intimacy, among other activities – to lonely people in the form of a nasal spray.

Take some time to get over the idea of ​​giving people in social distress direct doses of what many researchers call “the love hormone,” because the results were pretty interesting.

Although subjects did not report reductions in perceived loneliness, perceived stress, or quality of life, they did reported a reduction in acute feelings of loneliness – a narrow distinction, but one that was clearly tantalizing to the researchers, not least because the effect seemed to persist for months after treatment.

“The psychological intervention was associated with reduced perception of stress and improvement in general loneliness in all treatment groups, which was still visible at the three-month follow-up examination,” said the lead author of the paper, university faculty member Jana Lieberz. German University of Bonn, in a press release on the research.

Perhaps more intuitively — oxytocin is strongly associated with bonding — researchers also found that subjects receiving this hormone had an easier time connecting with others during the group therapy sessions they were enrolled in.

“This is a very important observation that we made: oxytocin was able to strengthen positive relationships with other group members and reduce acute feelings of loneliness from the start,” Leiberz said. “It could therefore be useful to support patients in this area at the start of psychotherapy. Indeed, we know that patients may initially feel worse than before the start of treatment as soon as problems are reported. The observed effects Oxytocin administration can in turn help these affected patients stay on the ball and keep going.”

Further research is clearly needed; the size of the trial was limited, to just 78 participants, and it is difficult to analyze the exact difference between “perceived” and “acute” reported loneliness.

But the doctors behind the study are clearly intrigued, writing in the press release that this work “could help alleviate loneliness,” which is “associated with many mental and physical illnesses.”

While Lieberz “emphasizes that oxytocin should not be considered a panacea,” the statement continued, the “study results suggest that oxytocin can be used to achieve positive effects during interventions.”

With the academic and commercial interest we’ve seen in the potential pharmaceutical benefits of everything from ketamine to MDMA, don’t be surprised if we see a surge in interest in oxytocin over the next few years.

Learn more about oxytocin: Scientists discover that dogs cry tears of joy when reunited with their owner

News Source :
Gn Health

Back to top button