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Oxytocin to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder

A Monash University prof has won a $100,000 grant for a two-year study of the use of inhaled oxytocin to treat social anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety disorder, or SAD, is also known as social phobia. It's a subset of generalized anxiety disorder. With SAD, you feel crippling anxiety and dread when faced with social occasions of all kinds: going to a party, even going to work or to school, speaking up at a meeting, eating at a restaurant.

It's an extremely common anxiety disorder, and it hampers your ability to succeed in life and in relationships.

Pradeep Nathan, an associate professor in the School of Psychology, Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine at Monash in Australia, will begin recruiting subjects for his study.

His theory is that, because people with SAD have -- among other things -- shown abnormal reactivity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions, especially the negative ones of fear and anger, and oxytocin calms the amygdala, inhaling some should reduce the symptoms.

The problem with oxytocin inhalants as drugs to treat pervasive, continuing conditions like social phobia is that its effects don't last very long, and the oxytocin stings pretty badly when you inhale it. Some companies, including Nastech, are working on longer-lasting inhalants using oxytocin or carbetocin, a synthetic form.

For you anxious Aussies who might want to participate, you can reach Nathan and PhD student Izelle Labuschagne at Pradeep.Nathan at med.monash.edu.au or Izelle.Labuschagne at med.monash.edu.au or +61 3 990 53952.

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