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First of all, let’s talk about parents:
Anybody who has ever raised a child understands the inherently stressful nature of the experience. The challenge of parenting lies not so much in the actual experience, but rather in the stress-based parental reactions that are triggered during the process. Parenting causes many adults to experience chronic stress, anxiety, resentment, depression and anger, seemingly with no bona fide roots for the intense emotional experience. Yet, research from the field of trauma implies just the opposite. That in fact, parenting creates an unconscious playground from which the parent’s deepest, most sensitive experiences are brought back to life with oftentimes unexpected force and consequences (Post 2010).
Research has repeatedly implicated the neuropeptide oxytocin as one of the key hormones involved in parent-infant bonding in mammals, as well as in a range of social and affiliative behaviors (Gordon et al. 2010). As such, there is also a noted disruption of the oxytocin response in parents where depression and other psychological disorders may be present. Parents who have been taking oxytocin have reported a prolonged and definite experience of calm in the presence of their child, an absence of anxiety when witnessing negative behaviors and an increase in ability to respond logically and from an authentic emotional space.
The information being shared concerns off-label use of oxytocin. The use of oxytocin with children is not approved by the FDA nor has it been approved by the FDA and neither has what I am about to say.
In 1906, the English researcher Sir Henry Dale discovered a substance in the pituitary gland that could speed up the birthing process. He named it oxytocin from the Greek words for “quick” and “child labor”. Later, he found that it also promoted the expulsion of breast milk. Now it appears that oxytocin plays a much larger physiological role than previously recognized, since under many circumstances, it has the ability to produce the effects that we associate with the state of calm and connection (Moberg 2003).
What is it Useful For?
In the article Central nervous system actions of oxytocin and modulation of behavior in humans, published in Molecular Medicine Today, June 1997, researcher Margaret McCarthy pointed out, “A continuous stress response can ultimately be deleterious and reducing the reaction under appropriate circumstances has substantial advantages.”