According to researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, a hormone called oxytocin, which is released whenever people hug or touch each other, could be useful in helping depression.
In a press release, Dr. Kai MacDonald, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego, noted that this hormone may change the firing of the amygdala, a part of the brain which plays an important role in processing emotional stimuli.
In previous studies of healthy people it has been shown that oxytocin reduces activity in areas of the brain associated with fear and increases eye contact, trust and generosity. Earlier studies also suggest that it may help people with anxiety disorders or schizophrenia.
Dr. MacDonald is now recruiting participants for a new study which will examine whether oxytocin might also help depression.
"A hug or a touch that causes a release of this hormone might somehow change brain signals," said MacDonald. "We want to see if we can harness this response to help patients who suffer from depression."
If you would like more information about this upcoming clinical trial, you may contact (866) 550-UCSD.