By Dr. Nicholas Howland
Prepare to have a new “excuse” for getting your Botox fix! There have been several reports in the media over the last year regarding Botox and depression. Botulinum toxin A, more commonly referred to by its trade name, Botox, is a drug that blocks nerve activity in the muscles, causing a temporary paralysis, or inhibition of muscle activity. This effect has been used to treat medical conditions ranging from eye spasms and neck spasms, to overactive bladder and migraine headaches. Most people, however, are more familiar with the use of Botox as a way of improving pesky facial wrinkles! In a recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry1, investigators studied the ability of Botox injections to reduce symptoms of depression.
In the study, 30 patients with diagnosed depression were randomly assigned to two different groups—one receiving Botox injections, and the other receiving injections with saline only. The injections were performed in the glabellar area, the skin at the top of the nose between the eyebrows. This area is commonly “scrunched” together when we frown or display expressions of anger and sadness. This is also one of the most common areas treated for wrinkles due to these overactive expressions. The patients were followed for 24 weeks. They were given injections at 0 weeks and 12 weeks and were evaluated for signs and symptoms of depression every 3 weeks. The study was able to conclusively show a significant improvement in depression symptoms for those patients who were injected with Botox.
Hopefully, after reading about that study, you are blown away! But it makes sense, right? Simply by blocking the muscles that make us frown and squint in anger, we can be happier. So, if you’ve been contemplating Botox but were worried what your friends or family might think, this is the perfect reason for you to go see your neighborhood plastic surgeon and get a consultation for this new tool to fight depression and become a more happy YOU.
¹Magid M, Reichenberg J, Poth P, et al. Treatment of major depressive disorder using botulinum toxin A: a 24-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Clin Psych. Aug 2014; 75(8):837-844.