Oxytocin for Schizophrenia - A New Treatment for Social Deficits



Impairments in social cognition and poor social functioning are core features of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. In recent years, there has been a move towards developing new treatment strategies that specifically target social cognitive and social behavioural deficits. Oxytocin (OXT) is one such strategy that has gained increasing attention.


While initial findings from OXT single dose/clinical trial studies are promising, more interdisciplinary research in both healthy and psychiatric populations is needed before determining whether OXT is a viable treatment option/adjunct for addressing poor illness outcomes in psychotic disorders.



Oxytocin Makes Schizophrenia Patients More Socially Savvy

The prosocial peptide oxytocin, which has been found to foster trust, attachment, and a variety of positive emotional responses in healthy individuals, may improve social functioning in people with schizophrenia.

Results of a small randomized controlled trial presented here at the 14th International Congress on Schizophrenia Research (ICOSR) showed that oxytocin, delivered as an intranasal spray, significantly improved the ability of patients with schizophrenia to tell when people were being sarcastic or lying.

The hormone also improved the ability to discern moods, and it enhanced patients’ ability to smell the floral aldehyde odorant lyral, a scent that individuals with schizophrenia have trouble detecting.


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Seems to me I ran into all this over the past week or so on the two new research email packagings I get. My reaction was positive but concerned because while sz tends to induce a cognitive paranoia that gets in the way of Oxt functions, just slamming pts with more Oxt would seem to have a potential to induce problems with boundary awareness and appropriate selectivity.

Many sz pts I have observed in tx settings have such difficulties big time, typically rebounding from observable extremes of connection-seeking and bonding driven by seemingly unreasonable fear of isolation to equal and opposite extremes of alienating others driven by fear of abuse.

There may be plenty of utility to the research (the results of the nasal spray test are very intriguing), of course, but let’s hope pros and pts alike don’t jump the gun on this.


This research has been going on for something like a decade, I believe. And the hormone has been available commercially for a long time (many decades) - so it seems relatively low risk. At some level - I think its valuable to get products like this out to people more quickly than slowly (especially if it has potential to help with negative symptoms - a big untreated area in schizophrenia)

More related research:

and some of the older studies:


And I think this company is trying to commercialize it for schizophrenia (among other areas):

Simultaneous to its launch, Turing announced the acquisition of three major assets from Retrophin: an intranasal formulation of ketamine, Syntocinon® (oxytocin nasal solution) and Vecamyl® (mecamylamine HCl tablets).

Turing is developing its new intranasal formulation of ketamine for a variety of psychiatric indications. The company is making significant investments in a novel delivery mechanism and other innovations to develop ketamine for the treatment of several serious psychiatric conditions for patients who currently have limited treatment options, and expects to commence clinical trials in the coming year.


Likewise aware of this, and it does suggest that the attachment and bonding schisms we see in all these (and other) dx’s have a neurochemical as well as cognitive-behavioral (conditioning) basis. I expect the detectives will close in more and more on an epigenetic mechanism that marries the two bases pretty soon… if they haven’t already.


Bingo. But possibly not “all bad.” Just hope it doesn’t turn into a “craze.”


Absolutely - but I also know that you’re knowledgeable enough about these topics to understand that the “Behavioral” aspects of these things (i.e. the doing) can be just as powerful as a person working purely on the “cognitive” aspects of these issues. In other words - the oxytocin might be enough to spur on a behavior that results in a virtuous loop - where a person feels more strongly about positive social interactions, therefore seeks more out, has more positive experiences, and seeks out more, and thereby builds social skills, that result in more positive social experiences…

This seems like it might be possible - just as antidepressant medications can help people get out, have more fun, and thereby start making more effort to get out and have more fun - a self fulfilling prophecy…


Yes; exactly. It’s an induction of the cognitive > emotional (-ly rewarding) > behavioral feedback loop coming from all three entry points.


And a negative study on Oxytocin for schizophrenia - this may have reduced the commercial interest in it.


“Global symptomatology as well as positive and negative symptoms were not improved by intranasal oxytocin. In fact, global symptoms, not positive or negative symptoms, improved in the placebo group. Secondary analysis shows that intranasal oxytocin improved negative symptoms in the small group of inpatients.”

Yeah, saw this sometime back, and have run into it three or four times since then. Pretty mixed results. At least in the written material, but the w/m is somewhat opaque.


as per ayurvedic medicine rose petals have oxytocin and we need to smell them and they are supposed to be good for the heart


Zombie thread… holy cow…!!! I think sz so complex only better antipsychotic can help us with negative and cognitive symptoms…!!! It may take 10 or twenty years for better medication…!!!