The cuddle and love hormone, oxytocin, which is well-known for promoting bonding and amorous feelings seems to have a flip side too.
New research seems to point to the fact that the hormone can make people remember bad events to such an extent that it can trigger anxiety and fear.
The trauma of a bad event can create fear of the possibility of a repeat in the future. The hormone appears to stimulate the part of the brain that intensifies memory of bad events. Experiments conducted on mice revealed that oxytocin can trigger fear and anxiety.
This finding may come as a shock especially when oxytocin is being tested as an anti-anxiety drug.
"By understanding the oxytocin system's dual role in triggering or reducing anxiety, depending on the social context, we can optimize oxytocin treatments that improve well-being instead of triggering negative reactions," said Jelena Radulovic, the senior author of the study.