Botox could ease depression in addition to wrinkles, study finds.
Botox injections may do more than erase the signs of age, or prevent you from feeling painful migraines — they may alleviate depression as well, a new study confirms.
More than 264 million people worldwide are suffering from depression. But common treatments for depression aren’t effective for nearly one third of these people, even when they stick to their treatment plans and tolerate the medications, according to the study, which published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.
How, and for how long, the treatment might work for depression is unclear, but researchers have thought that Botox may disrupt a 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 — and negative emotions. Because of this hypothesis, those studies mainly used forehead injections to attempt to treat depression, but were limited in terms of sample size, shaky methodologies, injection sites and mixed results.
To address the limitations of prior studies, the researchers analyzed more than 45,000 reports of adverse events resulting from Botox treatments from the US Food and Drug Administration’s Adverse Event Reporting System. The system supports surveillance of adverse effects of drugs reported by patients, health care professionals and drug manufacturers to the FDA through MedWatch, the FDA’s Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.They divided patients into eight groups corresponding to the medical symptoms most frequently treated with Botox. These were:
- cosmetic use for wrinkles, face lifts, dermal fillers or more
- limb spasms or spasticity (when muscles stiffen or tighten and prevent movement, speech and walking)
- neck pain
- involuntary blinking or spasming of their eyelids
- excessive sweating
- excessive drooling
- neurological and urinary bladder disorders
Each cohort was separated 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, migraine, spasticity and spasms reported depression 40% to 88% less often than people who underwent different treatments for the same conditions.
“The implications of that are fascinating because it means that depression can be cured with different (means) and not necessarily by injection in one of the facial muscles, which may be unwanted in some cases,” Abagyan added.