Can a ‘love hormone’ help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder? by UC Science Today

Obsessive thoughts, nightmares and alcohol addiction are often associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. In a quest to ease these symptoms, neuroscientist Jennifer Mitchell, of the University of California, San Francisco, is testing the power of oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone”. This could be a new therapy for combat veterans and active military personnel.

“We are interested in general in developing novel therapeutics for alcohol use disorder and co-morbid PTSD, because it is a population that is very difficult to treat and there are not a lot of treatments currently prescribed for. One of the therapeutics that we are looking at is oxytocin.”

This ‘love hormone’, also called the “moral molecule” and the “cuddle chemical” – makes people feel bonded. It helps us manage stress and anxiety, be more social, trusting and empathetic.

“Perhaps the oxytocin could ameliorate some of the signs and symptoms of the alcohol use disorder, the craving and some of the emotional reactivity and the signs and symptoms of PTSD as well.”