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Video by Dr. Dawn Elise Snipes on integrative behavioral health approaches including counseling techniques and skills for improving mental health and reducing mental illness.

Oxytocin and
Mental Health
Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
AllCEUs Counselor Continuing Education
Objectives
~ Learn about the functions of oxytocin
~ Identify how oxytocin may impact mood, cognition, behavior (including addiction) and social functioning
~ Explore current research involving the use of intranasal oxytocin for treatment
What is Oxytocin
~ Oxytocin can function as a:
~ Stress-coping molecule with protective effects especially in the face of adversity or trauma
~ Anti-inflammatory
~ Antioxidant
~ Immunomodulator
~ Oxytocin also enhances socialization including motivation for pair bonding, sexual activity, affiliative preferences, empathy / emotional IQ (social salience hypothesis) and parental behaviors
~ The effects of oxytocin are context-dependent (an environment of safety and cooperation vs. protection) and altered by experience, especially early life experience
Oxytocin
~ Oxytocin impacts dopaminergic activity which is crucial not only for reward and motivated behavior and the expression of affiliative behaviors
~ In response to extreme stress, oxytocin can activate vasopressin receptors
~ Individuals with low concentrations of endogenous oxytocin might be more likely to experience increased vasopressin-like reactions when given oxytocin
~ Bacterial diversity and composition in the gut uniquely influence the release of oxytocin
~ Gut microbiome changes in response to stress and communicates these changes, via the vague nerve, to the brain

Oxytocin & Vasopressin

Summary
~ The exploration of the impact of oxytocin on the mind and body has only just begun
~ Oxytocin can promote both prosocial/affiliative and protective/aggressive behaviors
~ Oxytocin release is based on prior learning and current contextual cues.
~ In the presence of a threat and a need to protect, oxytocin can activate vasopressin receptors.
~ Oxytocin can promote fear processing and aggression when the person does not feel safe, and especially in the aftermath of an acute stressor.

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