We need to love ourselves before we can love others, right?
Research from the Australian Catholic University and Swinburne University of Technology suggests it might be the other way around, at least for some.
It shows oxytocin, dubbed the love hormone for its role in bonding and sexual reproduction, can be an effective treatment for Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD.
BDD is a debilitating mental condition that causes sufferers to feel intense disgust or shame about perceived defects in their body.
Researchers found a single dose of oxytocin administered via a nasal spray could restore normal brain function, as measured by MRI scans.
Oxytocin is produced naturally, especially in the brains of people experiencing romantic love, and it plays a role in the emotional processing of visual information.
It is thought the extra boost might help the brains of BDD sufferers tip back towards a healthier, more realistic perception of the self.
The results could also explain why being in love with someone else also makes us feel better about ourselves.
Researcher Dr Izelle Labuschagne says oxytocin is a powerful hormone which promotes positive behaviours.
“People with BDD have significant social deficits, including a bias in how they think others perceive their appearance, so it made sense for us to put the two together,” she says.
“Coming up with new treatments for BDD is important because there isn’t much out there that helps.”
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