A recent study demonstrated that pregnant women with low oxytocin have a higher risk of postpartum depression. This is not surprising. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone and many studies have demonstrated how low oxytocin can cause unhappy parenting. Young fathers with low oxytocin are often indifferent or even violent. When given oxytocin spray they seem happier and are more likely to encourage their children to explore during playtime.
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.