Emma Marie


Roko Button

15. October 2018.

at 7 o’clock in the evening
Villa Macadamiana second at Marianberg
Hilltop Dr Menomonee Falls, WI 53051 US

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YLG Aesthetics

Is Botox the new Treatment for Depression and Patient Wellbeing?

Is Botox the new Treatment for Depression and Patient Wellbeing?

At the beginning of the new millennium, procedures for improving one’s appearance, like cosmetic surgery or non-surgical treatments, were often viewed as a privilege of the rich and famous. Now, over two decades later, aesthetic medicine is no longer solely afforded to the financial elite but has become mainstream. These aesthetic procedures have become more affordable, more socially acceptable and more widely available.

There has been a rise in the awareness of Mental Health issues and the need for self-care, and this has been highlighted during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The proliferation of the growth of aesthetic medicine has coincided with this movement and some experts are beginning to take notice of this. Research is emerging that having an aesthetic intervention produces a pleasing side-effect of increased self-confidence. In fact, the majority of patients seeking medical aesthetic transformations are motivated by psychological reasons. In other words, not only do they look better, they also feel much better about themselves.

Not only is Botox an effective treatment for reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles, it also controls excessive sweating or perspiration in the underarm area or the hands and the feet, migraine, bladder problems and muscle spasms. The new research is indicating that Botox is an effective treatment for depression too. Depression is characterised by feelings of ongoing sadness or helplessness and sadly this is a common mental health condition. Usually patients manage their symptoms using antidepressant medications and therapy. Unfortunately though, some people experience unwanted side effects from the medication and it may take some time and a lot of trial and error to find the most effective remedy.

In 2006, the first study into the relationship between Botox and depression was conducted. This was a very small trial conducted using only 10 patients who suffered with depression. These patients had Botox injections to their Glabellar, the area of the forehead in between the eyebrows which wrinkles when you scowl or frown. This trial revealed that 2 months following these injections, 9 out of the 10 people involved no longer had depressive symptoms, and the 10th participant experienced happier feelings.

In 2012, the Journal of Psychiatric Research conducted a further study, this time using 30 candidates known to have depression. Over a 16 week period half of the subjects received Botox treatment to the Glabellar and the other half a placebo of saline. The participants who received the Botox reported nearly a 50% reduction in their feelings of depression whilst interestingly the placebo group noticed a 10% reduction. This study also highlighted the fact that the effects of the Botox began to work on lifting the mood of the patient at around 6 weeks after administration. This is a similar timescale for the effects of antidepressants to come into play.

Following on from this a 2013 study then concluded that the maximum effect occurred 8 weeks following treatment. In 2017, The Iranian Journal of Public Health conducted their own similar research using 28 long term suffers of depression. They also came to the same conclusion that the people who had Botox improved much more than those who did not.

The reason behind this is not entirely clear at present. Initially it was thought that the improvement in a person’s appearance caused them to feel happier and therefore having smoother skin and fewer lines may improve the mood of the recipient. However a 2016 study into the studies performed showed that the severity of a patients frown lines did not have any effect upon their mood. For example, a person with no frown lines and a patient with deep frown lines both experienced the uplifting effects of Botox.  This would appear to suggest that it is not the improvement in the appearance of the subject which gives the beneficial effect.

Recently another explanation has been given for the fact that Botox can help reduce feelings of depression. It is called the “facial feedback” mechanism. When we make facial expressions, such as laughing, smiling or frowning, our facial expressions send feedback to our brain. Certain emotions such as anger, sadness or fear can also result in movement in the face namely in the area of the glabellar, causing these muscles to contract. It is hypothesised that decreasing the movement in this area prevents these signals from being fed back to the brain leading to an improvement in a person’s outlook on life.

This research is still in its infancy. Bear in mind that Botox is not approved as a treatment for depression. The cosmetic effects may last 3 to 5 months but the psychological effects may last for much longer.