Botox was once a purely cosmetic solution to wrinkles and laugh lines — now, the treatment is being used to treat medical conditions like hyperhidrosis and migraines.
As discoveries continue to show that Botox offers many benefits, people are looking more into the impact that the treatment can have on your mental health.
Many have credited the general confidence boost of an enhanced or self-perceived improved appearance as the reason for the change in mental health and feelings of happiness after getting Botox. This myth was debunked in a 2016 study that showed that wrinkles — which are commonly treated by botox — tend not to be linked to patients’ feelings of depression.
This is what is known so far about how Botox can improve one’s mental health:
Various studies have been done to examine how Botox impacts depression symptoms. Research has compared the impacts of real Botox versus a placebo treatment and has also observed subjects taking medication for these symptoms versus those who are not.
These are just two of various studies that have revealed similar conclusions:
- 2006: In 2006, a small study of 10 participants with depression showed the effects of injecting Botox in glabellar frown lines. These are the lines that tend to form when you express negative emotions.
According to Healthline, the study showed that two months after the trial 9 out of 10 of the participants no longer displayed symptoms of depression.
- 2012: Later in 2012, a team of researchers lead by Axel Wollmera and Tillmann Krugerb published a study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research linking improved mental health with Botox injections.
This research was done on a group of people coping with clinical depression. Of the 30 people studied, half were injected with Botox while the other half were injected with saline to emulate a placebo effect.
Six weeks later those injected with Botox saw a 47.1 percent decrease in their depression symptoms. The symptoms of those injected with saline, however, were only reduced by 9.2%.
The big question is, how exactly can Botox improve your mental health? The science behind this is the “facial feedback” concept. This is the idea that making certain facial expressions can send signals to your brain — it is being considered that Botox injections can prevent these signals from being sent.
When Botox is administered with the intent to reduce depression symptoms, it is injected between the eyes (frown lines). New York City plastic surgeon Z. Paul Lorenc, MD shared with Reader’s Digest that this is supposed to block the brain’s trigeminal nerve.
This is the nerve that allows us to frown and, as a result, sends our brain the signal to feel sadness. The Botox injection, ultimately, is supposed to trick your brain into thinking that you aren’t sad.
According to CBC, the creators behind Botox have, in fact, announced that they are in the final phase of testing the solution as a legitimate treatment for feelings of depression. It is also being studied if Botox can reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder and social anxiety.
More studies are being done to understand the impact Botox can have on mental health. Ultimately, while it has shown to be effective in various instances, it has not yet been approved as a stand-alone solution to depression.