Current Treatment Options in Psychiatry

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 132–142 | Cite as

Augmenting Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Co-Occurring Conditions with Oxytocin

  • Julianne C. FlanaganEmail author
  • Jennifer M. Mitchell
PTSD (S Creech and L Sippel, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on PTSD


Purpose of Review

The goal of this manuscript is to review the extant literature examining the neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms underlying the potential utility of intranasal oxytocin as a novel pharmacologic intervention for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and for the treatment of comorbid PTSD and alcohol and substance use disorders.

Recent Findings

Research indicates that intranasal oxytocin is a low-cost and easily accessible medication with an excellent safety profile. Oxytocin holds promise for facilitating more effective PTSD treatment, particularly when used in combination with evidence-supported psychotherapy interventions. There is still a significant need to identify the mechanisms of action underlying oxytocin treatment of PTSD and to maximize methods of nasal spray delivery, examine dose-response outcomes, and clarify the characteristics of individuals and populations that are most likely to benefit from adjunctive oxytocin treatment.


Collectively, preclinical and human laboratory research suggest that oxytocin may be an effective mechanism by which treatment outcomes for PTSD and common comorbidities can be enhanced. Adequately powered randomized controlled trials are needed to address efficacy, identify predictors of treatment outcome, and to assess the use of intranasal oxytocin within appropriate PTSD populations.


Oxytocin Posttraumatic stress Comorbidity Treatment Medication-enhanced psychotherapy 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Julianne C. Flanagan declares that she has no conflict of interest. Jennifer M. Mitchell declares that she has no conflict of interest

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).

References and Recommended Reading

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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