What’s This News About Botox Being an Antidepressant?

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 10.56.48 AMHow did a concept so far-fetched become a treatment option?

Dermatologists first began noticing something going on when their patients would come in asking for more Botox treatments even before their wrinkles reappeared. The patients said they needed the Botox injection because they were feeling down and not like themselves, and that the Botox somehow made them feel better, but not due to appearance.

A small clinic in Germany caught on to these comments and conducted a study to evaluate these statements and to draw the link between Botox and depression. Two other clinics in the United States saw these results and also conducted studies. Now Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox (who, by the way, was surprised by all this attention on Botox and mood) has decided to run a large, definitive study of Botox in depression.

Let’s face it (pun intended), people with depression oftentimes look sad, have frowns, and tense facial expressions. We know Botox can fix your frowns and wrinkles but does it work on depression? Why Botox? Why not other new medications? Finding a treatment that works for depression is imperative because depression is more common than you might think:

  • Globally, about 350 million people suffer from depression
  • 1 out of 20 Americans report having current depression symptoms
  • Depression is a medical illness caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain

How Does Botox Work As an Antidepressant?

The hypothesis is as follows: An injection of Botox blocks the release of a chemical called acetylcholine which then inhibits contraction of a facial muscle and prevents frowns (or wrinkles). A new discovery about what causes depression has to do with acetylcholine; this neurotransmitter, which can be blocked by Botox, accumulates in the nerve and thus tells the brain to make some chemical changes thus working as an antidepressant. Botox could possibly hold the solution to treating depression and it has nothing to do with erasing fine lines and wrinkles. Botox is believed to rebalance brain chemistry so that an antidepressant response occurs.

One study found that after a single round of Botox injections, 52% of patients who suffered from depression reported elevated moods!

What is interesting is that the antidepressant effects from Botox continues weeks after wrinkles reappear and the Botox wears off. This finding supports the scientific belief that Botox may go beyond just a cosmetic improvement.

Contact the Institute for Advanced Medical Research at 770-817-9200 to find out more about our programs addressing clinical depression.