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Botox injections can relieve depression



Doctors apply Botox to smooth facial wrinkles and treat health problems such as heavy sweating, uncontrollable flicker, chronic migraines, overactive bladders and neurological disorders that cause muscle contractions and pain in the neck and shoulders.

Botox, a medicine made from a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum, works by weakening or paralyzing specific muscles or blocking certain nerves.
More than 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression. However, conventional treatments for depression are not effective for almost one-third of these people, even if they stick to their treatment plans and tolerate medication. According to a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.
This deficiency has led physicians to investigate alternative therapies, such as psilocybin (the active ingredient in psychedelic fungi), ketamine infusions, and recent Botox injections. Previous studies over the last 1
5 years have found that it can have antidepressant effects.
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How and for how long treatment can affect depression is unclear, but scientists thought Botox could disrupt the feedback loop between negative facial expressions in the glabellar region – behind the skin between the eyebrows and above the nose, where our “grief muscles are negative emotions” . Because of this hypothesis, frontal injections were mainly used in these studies to try to treat depression, but were limited in terms of sample size, uncertain methodologies, injection sites, and mixed results.

Botox for different conditions

To address the limitations of previous studies, the researchers analyzed more than 45,000 reports of adverse events resulting from Botox treatment from the US Food and Drug Administration’s adverse event reporting system. The system supports the monitoring of adverse drug reactions reported by patients, healthcare professionals, and drug manufacturers to the FDA through MedWatch, the FDA Information Security Program, and adverse event reporting.
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They divided the patients into eight groups corresponding to the medical symptoms most commonly treated with Botox. These were:

  • cosmetic use for wrinkles, skin lifts, dermal fillers or more
  • migraine
  • limb cramps or spasticity (when muscles stiffen or tense and prevent movement, speech and walking)
  • sore throat
  • involuntary blinking or shrinking of the eyelids
  • excessive sweating
  • excessive drooling
  • neurological disorders of the bladder

Each cohort was divided into two groups, in which one group received Botox for their conditions and the other did not. Patients who received Botox injections to treat excessive sweating, facial wrinkles, migraines, spasticity and seizures reported depression 40% to 88% less frequently than people who underwent different treatments under the same conditions.

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“We found that the (effect) did not depend on the injection site and did not depend on (medical conditions) that are quite different for Botox,” said Ruben Abagyan, lead author of the study and professor of Skaggs pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical science at the University of California, San Diego.

“The consequences are fascinating, because it means that depression can be treated by various (means) and not necessarily by injection into one of the facial muscles, which can be undesirable in some cases,” added Abagyan.

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Although the facial loopback hypothesis is a “credible and valid mechanism,” the study said, the findings may suggest that there are other, more complex ways in which Botox could have an antidepressant effect.

Botox could be transmitted to the structures of the central nervous system that are involved in regulating our mood and emotions. A 2019 study found that Botox injections for muscle cramps may go beyond the injection site and may affect opposing muscle groups and reflexes by altering nerve activity.

“Of this, a fraction enters the systemic distribution through the bloodstream … and then somehow enters the brain and is likely to affect various sites,” which may be related to depression, Abagyan said.

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The interaction between muscles and mood is not limited to the process of facial feedback.

Muscle tension in various areas of the body is a common symptom of depression and can be a physical manifestation of the disorder as well as an increase in depressed mood. Therefore, progressive muscle relaxation, which mentally relaxes a person by stretching and relaxing muscles, is an established treatment in the field of psychiatry.
Depression is associated with increased muscle tone, which describes the maintenance of partial muscle contraction. Decreased muscle tone due to Botox injections, which weaken muscles, can work against depression.

“Imagine that when you get depressed, it’s not just one place on your forehead – that makes up that frown – but all your muscles are stressed and tight,” Abagyan said. “Then there is distributed muscle memory. By breaking this memory, basically relaxing all of them in this case will disrupt the feedback between the head and the muscles. ”

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Because some of these conditions are chronic and stressful, they can cause secondary psychological problems such as depression. If Botox corrected these problems, it could lead to relief from depression.

“I am interested in this study as to whether muscle cramps or sweating can cause us to feel physically depressed, and by treating this ‘feeling depressed’ we can affect not only the patient’s health problem (but also his well-being). , “Said Dr. Jason Reichenberg, Ascension Medical Group dermatologist and associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas at Austin. Reichenberg did not participate in the study.

The future of Botox

Because the FDA’s reporting system is voluntary and open to the public, adverse reactions to Botox may have been poorly reported and biased, the study said. Further details regarding demographics, doses and duration of treatment, medical records and other drugs or supplements were also limited.

Studies of past data fail to establish a “cause-and-effect relationship, but they help us focus our future research,” Reichenberg said. “The results are even more impressive when you consider that the authors removed all patients who took antidepressants so that they would not be biased; their results could be even stronger if they kept this additional data. ”

The researchers suggested that Botox injections could be an alternative treatment for those who do not find happiness in conventional treatments for depression, as well as for those who have both chronic conditions and depression.

“If someone needs to be treated for excessive salivation, cramps or a tilted head and are depressed at the same time, the discovery shows that (Botox) may be beneficial for both indications,” Abagyan said. “If you can kill two birds with one stone, I think it’s definitely something to consider.”

Depression brings with it dangers, such as the risk of suicide, but also Botox injections if the doses are disproportionate to what patients can handle, Abagyan said. Further studies on the treatment of depression with Botox are needed to understand the potential side effects and ensure a safe path to mental well-being.


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