Another Great Thing About Botox

botox_injection_older_womanI have seen first-hand the wondrous effect that Botox has on people who either use it for the first time or keep coming back for it.  I’m talking less about Botox’s effective work against facial lines and wrinkles (although it’s the whole reason Botox is still popular), and more about how happy people are after they receive it.

I have always presumed that people who receive Botox are happier because they are more satisfied with the way they look after their Botox injections.  However, researchers believe the after effects are not the only reason people are happier after their treatments.

A recent study from the University of Texas suggests that Botox has antidepressant qualities in addition to its well-known cosmetic effects.  Researchers found that people who received Botox injections between their eyebrows felt generally happier even after the treatment wore off and wrinkles returned.

The study included 30 patients, all of whom had symptoms of depression.  They took part in a six-month, randomized double blinded and placebo-controlled study, meaning that neither the researchers nor the participants knew which patients received real Botox injections, and which received fake ones (e.g. the placebo).  This type of study is therefore considered the gold standard for medical study validity, as the results are assumed to be free from subjective bias.

Researchers found that the patients receiving Botox showed improved scores on a standard Depression rating scale. Even more significantly, although the cosmetic effects wore off between 12 and 16 weeks, improvement in depression scores were maintained for a full 24 weeks following the injections.

Researchers had two possible theories as to why Botox injections the forehead might be improving mood. The first theory involved behavior alone. If a person looks less sad and anguished, people tend to engage with them more. When social interaction improves, self-esteem and overall mood is also likely to boost.

The second theory is more biological, and related to nerve information sent to the brain.  When your facial muscles cannot show signs of heightened depression and anxiety, the nerves to the brain decrease their activity which, in turn, can lead to improvement in anxiety and depression.

The researchers at the University of Texas are not currently advocating the use of Botox for treatment of depression.  However, they do feel that a larger study is warranted based on these findings.

So, if you feel better after having Botox and have a little extra bounce in your step, it could be more than just a placebo effect.  I also continue to find it intriguing that more and more uses are found for Botox in many fields of medicine other than just cosmetic dermatology alone.

As always, I will keep you up-to-date on the latest findings in these areas.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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