We all know that Botox can smooth the brow and erase crow’s feet, but new evidence suggests that it may help treat depression – and not just because patients look more youthful and confident post-treatment.
In one recent study, patients with symptoms of depression all improved immediately after cosmetic treatment with Botox. More interestingly, however, this improvement in mood persisted even when the Botox wore off and the wrinkles returned.
This study suggests that something about Botox injection helps to relieve depression, and that this effect lasts longer than the injection itself. The researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern who conducted the study have suggested several theories from the medical literature to explain this intriguing phenomenon, including the following:
Theory One: Botox increases engagement with others. By reducing the frown lines that can indicate sadness, worry or even anguish, Botox helps patients appear more approachable to other people. This perception of approachability may increase the Botox patient’s social engagement, which in turn improves mood and reduces depression.
Theory Two:Botox reduces activity in the amygdale. Botox injections to the forehead reduce signals between the trigeminal nerve (which receives sensory input from the world) and the part of the brain known as the amygdale (which is one of the brain’s response centers for fear and anxiety, among other functions). As one of the study authors theorizes, “reducing trigeminal nerve signals with botulinum injections can . . . reduce hyperactivity in the amygdala, which can lead to improved anxiety and depression states.”
Theory Three: Botox induces a relaxation effect in patients. The researchers also theorize that a relaxed brow may have a physiological impact similar to the effects of Yoga or Tai Chi (!). Thus patients with an unfurrowed forehead may feel more relaxed and less anxious and depressed.
Does this mean we think you should come to Sea Mist MedSpa to receive treatment for depression? No! While we are proud of what we do, we’re not psychiatrists.
Besides, only three small, double-blinded studies indicate that Botox may have a novel psychiatric use. Larger studies are needed to prove the hypothesis that Botox injections do indeed relieve depression and to decide who (if anyone) should get this treatment, and when, and from whom.
Nonetheless, should you decide to use Botox for the usual cosmetic reasons, it’s nice to know that one possible side effect could be an improved mood and reduced anxiety.
Study description: “Thirty participants with symptoms of depression took part in the 24-week, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. The group that first received placebo began receiving botulinum treatments after week 12, while the group receiving the botulinum treatments first were later switched to placebo after week 12. Researchers noted both groups’ improved scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Significantly, however, though the treatments’ cosmetic effects wore off between weeks 12 and 16 in the group that received botulinum followed by placebo, improvement in depressive symptoms was maintained for the full 24 weeks.” – From Dermatology Times
To find the forthcoming full-length study, see The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
To see coverage of another recent study of botox and major depression, view this article from The New York Times. For even more details of this study, see this summary from Psychology Today.
Finally, for a summary of an even earlier study of Botox and depression, see this article fromScientific American.