A recent study suggested that OXT is a likely candidate for treatment of patients with PTSD through a reduction of fear response and an increase of social functioning (Olff et al., 2010). It has been suggested that OXT has unique effects of decreasing background anxiety without affecting learning and memory of a specific traumatic event in rats (Missig et al. 2010).
Increased OXT neurotransmission during traumatic events is likely to prevent the formation of aversive memories. When OXT was centrally administered prior to fear conditioning or extinction training, fear expression and facilitated fear extinction were decreased in rats. Thus, Toth et al. proposed that OXT treatment before fear extinction training is a comparable time point for psychotherapy in PTSD patients (Toth et al., 2012).
In humans, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; ecstasy) robustly induces OXT release. Thus, MDMA in combination with psychotherapy may be beneficial for treatment-resistant anxiety disorders (Johansen et al. 2009). Stress-associated diseases such PTSD may be treatable by OXT and/or MDMA, administered in a diluted and strictly controlled fashion.
Various types of somatosensory stimulation (grooming, touch, hug, massage, etc.) are useful to treat PTSD because of its stimulatory effects on OXT system (Uvnas-Moberg et al., 2005; Yoshimoto et al. 2012). In addition, it is conceivable that acupuncture, massage, and TENS, all of which upregulate endogenous OXT expression, are effective for PTSD.