Oxytocin, AKA the “cuddle hormone, “love hormone” and “bonding hormone” is now also being referred to as the “happy hormone”, “empathy hormone”, “charitable hormone”, “trust hormone”… I’ll stop here and assume you get the idea!
Oxytocin is a natural hormone that is released during intimacy and is available at plenty during and after child birth, making it a hormone you can actually rely on. Now we are learning that not only does oxytocin help to create and bring children into the world, studies show that oxytocin plays an important role in one’s overall well-being. Now that’s what I call dependable follow-though!
Recent studies show that oxytocin boosts trust, empathy, charitable actions, happiness and overall well-being.
Dr. Paul Zak, a researcher at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA did a study on the effects of oxytocin in both men and women. His findings; Oxytocin seems to control how the brain balances self and others.
Women with higher levels of oxytocin showed an increase in happiness, satisfaction with their relationships and ultimately a higher level of trust in others and within themselves. Interestingly, the study found that these women also had more sex with fewer partners than women with lower levels of oxytocin.
In Dr. Zak’s study of men he found that those with higher levels of oxytocin were more generous and empathetic. Not a bad thing if you ask me!
Additional studies show that oxytocin can help in overcoming social inhibitions and fears ultimately helping to break down social barriers. A benefit that some believe would help those who suffer from depression, social anxiety, mood disorders, PTSD and even those on the spectrum of autism.
The best part: it’s built right into your body’s DNA. Yes, there are synthetic substitutes, but like most things oxytocin is most reliable when it’s brought out naturally. No, we are not saying you should go out and hug the first person you see when you’re feeling down. Studies show that simply thinking of a loved one can raise your oxytocin levels.
Turns out Peter Pan was right; think happy thoughts and you could fly… well emotionally anyway!