`Love hormone` can help treat psychiatric disorders

Washington: The hormone, oxytocin, could play a role in treating psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, a new study has revealed.

According to the study conducted by Dr David Cochran of University of Massachusetts Medical School and his colleagues, oxytocin is an important regulator of human social behaviors.

The study also revealed that the hormone can also be useful for treating certain mental health diagnoses, particularly those which involve impaired social functioning.

A growing body of evidence in animals and humans has revealed that oxytocin, probably most familiar for its role in initiating labor and breast milk flow in pregnant women, plays an important role in regulating social behaviors.

Based on these effects, researchers have suspected that oxytocin may be a common factor in certain psychiatric disorders. The reviewers analyze the evidence for oxytocin's involvement in specific disorders-including some early research on oxytocin as a potential treatment for these conditions.

"The evidence suggests a role of oxytocin in the pathophysiology of some psychiatric disorders, particularly those characterized by impairments in social functioning," Dr Cochran and coauthors wrote.

Though the preliminary nature of the currently available data precludes a clear understanding of the exact nature of the hormone's role, the study showed that proper clinical trials would be able to provide a better understanding of the extent and limitations of the clinical effects of externally delivered oxytocin.

The study was published in Harvard Review of Psychiatry.