Mental illnesses: women more sensitive to oxytocin

A new study could advance research on some mental illnesses. Indeed, women and men are not equal in this area, and it is important to develop gender-specific treatments.

Men and women are unfortunately not equal in the face of risks of mental illness. We already know, for example, that women are twice as likely to be depressed once in their life, and men to have attention deficit disorder. Despite significant gender differences in social behavior and their impact on mental health, little research has been conducted to date.

The authors of this Georgia State study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, have sought to understand where this difference comes from in men and women ... and it is in the brain reward system that they found the answer.

A difference between men and women

According to researchers in the study, women "find that social interactions between people of the same sex are more rewarding than men". This would come from the fact that women are more sensitive than men to the rewarding actions of oxytocin (OT), considered "the hormone of trust and love".

The research team found that oxytocin (OT) works in the brain's "reward circuit", which makes social interaction rewarding. But what will this bring in research on mental illnesses?

More appropriate treatment depending on the sex of the patient

"Recognizing gender differences in the treatment of social reward is necessary to understand gender differences in the onset of certain mental illnesses, and is essential for the development of gender-specific treatments for disorders. psychiatric such as autism, drug addiction and schizophrenia, "says Dr. Elliott Albers, director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and professor of neuroscience Regents at Georgia State, who led the research team.

Data from the study showed that EO receptor activation is essential for social interaction to be rewarding for men and women, but women are more sensitive to EO actions than men .

With this discovery, researchers plan to use OT to develop drugs based on gender. Better understanding social interactions in specialized clinics would also help to better regulate disorders in women. For example, one could favor a doctor of the same sex for their follow-up.

Video: Data Stories. Autism & the oxytocin system (January 2020).