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Could Botox Improve More Than Your Looks? Using Botox to Treat Depression?

It makes sense that rejuvenating your appearance can give you an extra spring in your step, but now there’s evidence that the very same BOTOX® treatments you might get to soften frown lines could actually help you be happier.

Recent studies have shown that for some patients, as little as one injection of BOTOX® can lead to a reduction in the symptoms of depression. In one study, about half of the 33 participants reported a 50 percent improvement and decrease of symptoms, and about 27% saw their depression symptoms go into remission.

So, how can BOTOX®, best known for its cosmetic prowess, take on this double duty? Researchers believe it has to do with the relationship between our facial expressions and the messages they send to our brains. It has long been suspected that those who frown more frequently are more likely to experience symptoms of depression.

When injected into the corrugator muscles (between the eyebrows) to relax wrinkles, BOTOX® affects a group of nerves leading directly into the brain that are known to contribute to mood. BOTOX® stops the release of a chemical called acetylcholine, which disables communication from the nerves and prevents the same muscle contraction needed to produce a frown. By simply blocking the receptors, BOTOX® may break the cycle linking frowning to depression.

While the potential to use BOTOX® for more than treating wrinkles is certainly exciting, it’s not surprising, given the drug was originally FDA-approved for non-cosmetic uses. Physicians have been using BOTOX® for decades for a number of therapeutic medical applications, including chronic migraine headaches, excessive sweating, neck pain, overactive bladder, and muscle spasms, earning it the nickname “miracle poison” among some in the field.

The only difference between medical BOTOX® and BOTOX® Cosmetic, which I use here for my patients, is the dosage—they contain the same formulation. Typically, a smaller amount of the active ingredient, botulinum toxin A, is needed to relax facial muscles versus calming excessive sweating, for instance. The treatment process is also similar, involving a series of injections that can be performed in your physician’s office every few months.

Having performed BOTOX® Cosmetic injections for almost two decades, I love knowing that it can offer more than cosmetic improvements to patients. BOTOX® Cosmetic treatment carries minimal risks, and now you know it may even have a beneficial side effect…along with results to smile about.

 

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