Potential for oxytocin use in children and adolescents with mental illness

Elisabeth Netherton, Dawnelle Schatte

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

11 Scopus citations


Background Oxytocin, long known for its role in childbirth and breastfeeding, has recently come under investigation for its psychoactive properties. We investigated its potential for use in adolescent psychiatric populations for anxiety, depression, attachment disorders, and conduct disorder. Methods We conducted a thorough search of the literature using the Pubmed and Psychinfo databases and reviewed both the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from January 2000 until June 2010 and the new research abstracts from the 2009 and 2008 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry conferences. We also surveyed the studies, both ongoing and recruiting, currently receiving National Institutes of Health funding to study oxytocin. Results We found numerous articles outlining benefits of intranasal oxytocin administration on individual traits, both in healthy and psychiatric populations. We also found ongoing phase II clinical trials for oxytocin uses as an antipsychotic or anxiolytic. Conclusions Given the research already conducted, we recommend investigation into the therapeutic use of oxytocin in adolescent populations for anxiety, psychosis, attachment disorders, and conduct disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-281
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Psychopharmacology
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011
Externally publishedYes



  • adolescents
  • attachment
  • children
  • conduct disorder
  • neuropharmacology
  • oxytocin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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