Hormone nasal spray could help people with mental illness and autism

A new research study conducted by the University of Oslo in Norway has shown that the hormone oxytocin could be beneficial for people with mental illness, if they take a spray form of nasal treatment.

Oxytocin is produced in the brain and is released during childbirth, intimacy and social bonding, which is why it was highlighted as a worthy source of investigation for treating conditions that can cause awkwardness with social interactions.

Scandinavian researchers oversaw a small clinical trial in which 16 adult participants were given different doses of oxytocin.

The men each received four single-dose treatments that included a placebo, a low dose of oxytocin, a high dose and an intravenous dose of the same hormone.

Following each dose, the participants were shown 20 male and 20 female faces that displayed a range of emotions, including happiness and anger, as well as emotions that were much more complex to read.

Out of all the tests, the low dose of oxytocin was the only one that had a noticeable effect on how each of the participants interpreted commonplace emotional signals.

Though researchers have made it clear that more research is needed into the advantages of nasal drug delivery in relation to oxytocin, and how the overall study could have an effect on treatment plans, the breakthrough has been viewed positively as a much-needed step.

Further information about the study, including a breakdown of results, is available in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

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