One study conducted at The National Academy of Sciences observed improvement after taking small amounts of the oxytocin hormone. Children played more appropriately and were far more accurate in their ability to read playmates. Their focus increased and they were able to read people’s faces above the mouth, specifically the eyes. As we all know someone can be lying to us with their mouth (think politicians) but they really can’t lie to us with their eyes. With this increased power of observation they were better able to determine correct emotions.
Mothers with higher oxytocin levels are more likely to coo to their babies in a playful voice. High oxytocin mothers also smile at their babies and are more flexible to changes in its moods. They also touch more and look into their babies eyes, sing lullaby’s (singing releases oxytocin). And, of course, parents that spend more time looking into each other’s eyes release more oxytocin with each other, always a good thing in any family unit.
Mechanics of oxytocin and depression:
Serotonin is one of our most well understood feel-good neurotransmitters and the focus of the vast majority of antidepressants. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has taught us that oxytocin works at the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor site. Serotonin is found in great density in the amygdala, the seat of all of our negative memories, fears and anxieties. Increased oxytocin in the amygdala triggers serotonin. Serotonin decreases blood pressure, heart rate, mitigates aggression and promotes calm behavior. Clearly, oxytocin and serotonin have a quid pro quo relationship that can bring faster relief and greater efficacy to any SSRI based antidepressant protocol. Oxytocin is the perfect adjunct to 5HTP therapy.