Discovered in 1909, the side effects of oxytocin administration was believed to mainly influence a mother’s labor contractions and milk lactation. Much later, in the 1990s, oxytocin research with prairie voles found that giving them a dose of oxytocin resulted in the formation of a bond with their future mate.
This discovery started the explosion of oxytocin research in both animals and humans. A surge in the number of articles with oxytocin as an index term on American Psychological Association’s PsycNET increased from just 17 in 1990 to 118 in 2010. Researchers are studying not only the side effects of oxytocin administration specific workings in the brain, but behavioral influence in animals and humans, including bonding, trust, anxiety and social understanding.
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In a series of studies, Claremont Graduate University economist Paul Zak, PhD, for example, showed that giving people oxytocin via nasal spray increases their trust of others. Study results found that side effects of oxytocin administration are linked to women having better romantic relationships and sex, and having more friends. More donations to charities was found to be at a higher level for those taking oxytocin. He calls it the “molecule of connection.”
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It’s these type of positive oxytocin research studies that make researchers hopeful that oxytocin could help treat mental health disorders, including autism, social anxiety disorder and schizophrenia. Early studies show that a dose of oxytocin hormone enables autistic people to better read social cues and eases social anxiety among people with social anxiety disorder. More therapists and physicians are so convinced in the promise of oxytocin, they have started prescribing it to children with autism. Read more about the benefits and side effects of oxytocin administration for children with autism in Medical News Today.
Still some questions about Side Effects of Oxytocin Administration
While questions remain unanswered, including how it works and under what circumstances, more studies are underway and research articles are being published about side effects of Oxytocin administration. On top of those concerns, recent studies suggest that oxytocin may also have a darker side: For some people it might actually decrease trust and sociability, suggesting that its a good idea to map a psychological profile onto a hormone, which researchers are currently studying.