How your mental state affects how you handle stressful situations by UC Science Today

Your mental state often affects the way you handle uncomfortable situations. Jennifer Mitchell, neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco has recently tested what she calls stress reactivity of patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and alcohol abuse.

“We make people nervous in a social situation. And that induces really robust cortisol response, increase in heart rate, changes in respiration and blood pressure. And we administer either oxytocin or placebo and then we look to see whether oxytocin enables people to be less nervous and less apprehensive in that situation.”

The oxytocin therapy reduces stress and anxiety and also helps patients be more resilient to alcohol cravings.

“A lot of people who have troubles with alcohol use disorder and PTSD are self medicating. They are anxious, they are stressed, they are fearful and they find that drinking alcohol ameliorates some of those problems.”