Is Botox the next treatment for depression?

There have been a lot of pharmacological and therapeutic treatments for depression introduced in recent years, but a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology now gives the more than 15 million American adults who suffer from depression a new option: Botox.

According to Jason S. Reichenberg, M.D., director of dermatology at the University of Texas-Austin and co-author of the study, researchers have found that Botox might ease the symptoms of depression.

More: What to consider before getting Botox

The study looked at four theories involving a possible correlation between Botox and depression including:

  1. Botox yields a cosmetic effect, which indirectly leads to improved mood
  2. More pleasant facial expression leads to positive social feedback with resultant mood improvement
  3. Paralyzing frown muscles decreases signals to the brain to be sad
  4. Botox injections actually reach the brain, causing direct effects on emotional processing

Researchers set out to explore the idea that people who looked better would feel better, but quickly discovered that it wasn’t that simple.

They found that patients had mixed feelings about the effects of the injections, with some not liking the way they looked with Botox (but still saw their depression get better) and others who enjoyed their new look, but did not see a reduction in symptoms.

More: What they don’t tell you about Botox

However, Reichenberg and his wife Michelle Magid did find that depression scores dropped 42 percent in patients who received Botox, compared with only 15 percent in participants who had a placebo.

And with the staggering number of Americans suffering from the debilitating effects of depression, it comes as no surprise that researchers and doctors are looking to alternative ways to treat this complex mental health condition.

More: 5 unexpected uses for Botox that have nothing to do with wrinkles


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