Botox, also known as the botulinum toxin, has been known for many years as one of the most popular noninvasive cosmetic treatments on the market. In 2013, it experienced a 15.6% surge in popularity and became was the most commonly performed nonsurgical cosmetic treatment for those looking to fight the signs of aging.
But now researchers are asking another question: will Botox help men and women suffering from clinical depression? According to some, the answer is yes.
The injections, which are sold by drug company Allergan, are already used for a number of other medical treatments, from excessive sweating and bladder control to migraines and eyelid spasms. But the bacterial toxin, which paralyzes muscles to create a wrinkle-free appearance, may also help patients suffering from moderate to severe depression.
Botox is currently in its second phase of clinical trials for FDA approval as a treatment for depression.
The study concerning the link between Botox and depression was published by Dr. Eric Finzi, a board-certified dermasurgeon from Washington, D.C., and Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, an associate professor at Georgetown’s School of Psychiatry. Finzi has already been using the treatment, and has trained psychiatrists on how to administer Botox for depression.
The pair released a study last year in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry that found that 52% of depressed participants saw relief in their symptoms from the Botox injections, compared to just 15% who received a placebo treatment. One-third of those who received Botox also went into remission.
And Finzi and Rosenthal aren’t the only ones who have found these results.
Dr. Ajay K. Parsaik, a resident at the University of Texas Medical Center, presented evidence at the American Psychiatry Association’s annual meeting that there may be a link between Botox and treatment for depression.
Parsaik and his team of researchers analyzed previous scientific studies on the subject and found that patients who received Botox were eight times as likely as those who didn’t to see some ease in their depression with few, if any, side effects.
“This study suggests that botulinum toxin A causes significant improvement in depressive symptoms and is a safe adjunctive treatment for depression,” Parsaik and his co-authors wrote.
A group of Swiss and German researchers also concur that there could be a link between Botox and depression treatment but offer an explanation as to why. Patients may see a happier-looking face in the mirror, and when they receive compliments from friends, it’s easy to improve their mood.