Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2019 Nov;17(4):487-494. 10.9758/cpn.2019.17.4.487.

The Interaction of Oxytocin and Social Support, Loneliness, and Cortisol Level in Major Depression

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan. chenps@mail.ncku.edu.tw
  • 2Institute of Behavioral Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.
  • 3Institute of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.
  • 4School of Pharmacy, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.
  • 5Department of Pharmacy, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.
  • 6Department of Pharmacy, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Dou-Liou Branch, Yunlin, Taiwan.
  • 7Department of Psychiatry, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Dou-Liou Branch, Yunlin, Taiwan.
  • 8Addiction Research Center, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Loneliness is a specific risk factor for depressive symptoms and suicidal behavior. The present study examined whether the serum oxytocin level would interact with social support and buffers loneliness and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis activity in drug-naïve patients with major depressive disorder (MDD).
METHODS
Twenty-six patients with MDD (male:female = 3:23; mean age, 45.54 ± 12.97 years) were recruited. The 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, UCLA Loneliness Scale and self-reported Measurement of Support Function Questionnaire were administered. Serum oxytocin and cortisol levels were assessed using a commercial immunoassay kits.
RESULTS
In MDD patients, a negative association was found between degrees of social support and loneliness (β = −0.39, p = 0.04). The interaction between social support and serum oxytocin level was negatively associated with loneliness (β = −0.50, p = 0.017) and serum cortisol level (β = −0.55, p = 0.020) after adjusting for age. Follow-up analyses showed that the association between higher social support and lower loneliness was observed only in the higher-oxytocin group (r = −0.75, p = 0.003) but not in the lower group (r = −0.19, p = 0.53). The significance remained after further adjusting for sex and depression severity.
CONCLUSION
Low oxytocin level is a vulnerability factor for the buffering effect of social support for loneliness and aberrant HPA-axis activity in MDD patients.

Keyword

Cortisol; Loneliness; Major depressive disorder; Oxytocin; Social support
Full Text Links
  • CPN
Share
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
Copyright © 2020 by Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors. All rights reserved.     E-mail: koreamed@kamje.or.kr