Oxytocin, the chemical that floods your body when you snuggle up to a sex partner or birth a baby helps humans love each other and bond socially and all that good stuff, but I guess it also helps cement social trauma that will haunt you forever rendering you an anxious mess until you die.
The “love hormone” may not be all that and a heart shaped box of chocolates, as the Huffington Post puts it, oxytocin “does play a huge role in social bonding and feelings of love, it also is the reason why terrible events can scar you for life.”
According to Jelena Radulovic, the Dunbar Professsor of Bipolar Disease at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine “by understanding the oxytocin system’s dual role in triggering or reducing anxiety, depending on the social context, we can optimize oxytocin treatments that improve well-being instead of triggering negative reactions.”
Radulovic and her team recently published a study in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The study, which was conducted on mice, suggests that oxytocin both burns stressful situations from our past into our minds forever and also boosts our “feelings of anxiety and fear in the face of future stress.” That’s why you remember every last detail of the time you were humiliated in front of your entire 5th grade class and also why you shake like a leaf when you remember that you have to do something nerve-racking tomorrow.
How does this happen? Why does this happen? Oxytocin “triggers” a molecule called ERK which stimulates fear pathways in the brain’s lateral septum region which makes things feel way scarier. ERK remains activated for hours in the wake of a disturbing social experience.
This is allegedly the first study that shows any negative function to Oxytocin. In the past it has just been identified as a love boosting and bonding hormone.
Story via Huffington Post//Image via Shutterstock