An Antidote to Shyness ?

A whiff of Oxytocin and the anxiety and nervousness you experience when you contemplate going up to your cute colleague, could be a thing of the past. Oxytocin popularly known as the ‘love hormone’ stimulates milk ejection during lactation, uterine contraction during birth, and is released during sexual orgasm in both men and women, what has now caught the attention of psychiatrists and sociologists is the role it plays in interpersonal relationships.

Earlier studies looking into the biological basis for human attachment and bonding had revealed that Oxytocin is in fact responsible for inspiring trust as well as improving men’s ability to read other people’s emotions. Recent studies have brought to light its ability to help people with social phobia, interact.How Oxytocin works its magic could be explained by the effect it has on amygdala – a brain region involved in the fear response – to pictures of fearful, happy or angry faces.

In a study conducted by Markus Heinrichs at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and colleagues, oxytocin is shown to reduce the response of amygdale thus making people more ready to participate in social interactions.

Heinrichs further conducted a study by giving 70 people suffering from generalized social phobia a dose of Oxytocin through nasal spray. The preliminary results suggest oxytocin improved their readiness to interact in role-playing and their confidence in tackling social challenges outside the sessions. So is Oxytocin the panacea for all your relationship troubles? Probably.

A dose which helps woman trust better, helps men understand emotions better, and helps you interact and bond better, sounds like a whole lot of good news. What’s more Oxytocin could be investigated as a treatment for people with autism, who struggle to read the emotions of others. Maybe its time to replace that mouth freshener in your pocket with an Oxytocin Spray!

Malavika Vyawahare

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