Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Feeling stressed? Oxytocin could help you reach out to others for support

Date:
June 25, 2013
Source:
Concordia University
Summary:
Scientists have shown that reaching out to other people during a stressful event is an effective way to improve your mood, and researchers suggest that the hormone oxytocin may help you accomplish just that.

The next time someone snubs you at a party and you think hiding is the solution to escape your feelings of rejection, think again. Scientists have shown that reaching out to other people during a stressful event is an effective way to improve your mood, and researchers at Concordia University suggest that the hormone oxytocin may help you accomplish just that.

Related Articles


Mark Ellenbogen and Christopher Cardoso, researchers in Concordia's Centre for Research in Human Development are taking a closer look at oxytocin, a hormone traditionally studied for its role in childbirth and breastfeeding, and more recently for its effect on social behaviour. Their latest study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, shows that oxytocin can increase a person's trust in others following social rejection.

Explains Ellenbogen, "that means that instead of the traditional 'fight or flight' response to social conflict where people get revved up to respond to a challenge or run away from it, oxytocin may promote the 'tend and befriend' response where people reach out to others for support after a stressful event. That can, in turn, strengthen social bonds and may be a healthier way to cope."

In a double-blind experiment, 100 students were administered either oxytocin or a placebo via a nasal spray, then subjected to social rejection. In a conversation that was staged to simulate real life, researchers posing as students disagreed with, interrupted and ignored the unsuspecting participants. Using mood and personality questionnaires, the data showed that participants who were particularly distressed after being snubbed by the researchers reported greater trust in other people if they sniffed oxytocin prior to the event, but not if they sniffed the placebo. In contrast, oxytocin had no effect on trust in those who were not emotionally affected by social rejection.

Cardoso, who is a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology, says that studying oxytocin may provide future options for those who suffer from mental health conditions characterized by high levels of stress and low levels of social support, like depression. "If someone is feeling very distressed, oxytocin could promote social support seeking, and that may be especially helpful to those individuals," he says, noting that people with depression tend to naturally withdraw even though reaching out to social support systems can alleviate depression and facilitate recovery.

For Ellenbogen, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Developmental Psychopathology, the contribution of stress the development of mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder has long been a research focus. "I'm concerned with the biological underpinnings of stress, particularly interpersonal stress, which is thought to be a strong predictor of these mental disorders. So, oxytocin is a natural fit with my interests," says Ellenbogen. "The next phase of research will begin to study oxytocin's effects in those who are at high risk for developing clinical depression."

Cardoso says reactions to oxytocin seem to be more variable depending on individual differences and contextual factors than most pharmaceuticals, so learning more about how the hormone operates can help scientists to figure out how it might be used in future treatments.

"Previous studies have shown that natural oxytocin is higher in distressed people, but before this study nobody could say with certainty why that was the case," Cardoso says, "In distressed people, oxytocin may improve one's motivation to reach out to others for support. That idea is cause for a certain degree of excitement, both in the research community and for those who suffer from mood disorders."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Concordia University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christopher Cardoso, Mark A. Ellenbogen, Lisa Serravalle, Anne-Marie Linnen. Stress-induced negative mood moderates the relation between oxytocin administration and trust: Evidence for the tend-and-befriend response to stress? Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.05.006

Cite This Page:

Concordia University. "Feeling stressed? Oxytocin could help you reach out to others for support." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130625092003.htm>.
Concordia University. (2013, June 25). Feeling stressed? Oxytocin could help you reach out to others for support. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130625092003.htm
Concordia University. "Feeling stressed? Oxytocin could help you reach out to others for support." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130625092003.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins