Medical aesthetics treatments make people feel good. Every professional practitioner can tell you that. But can Botox actually work as an antidepressant? Evidence-based science has taken a big and exciting step forward in answering that question.

Millions could possibly benefit from mood-altering treatments

Botox injections may do more than erase the signs of age, or prevent you from feeling painful migraines — they may also alleviate depression.

That’s what a new study confirms.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego discovered that “people who received Botox injections — at six different sites, not just in the forehead — reported depression significantly less often than patients undergoing different treatments for the same conditions,” according to the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

UC San Diego Health Release: Botox Injections May Lessen Depression

Interesting, for sure. But not entirely new.

There have been several smaller studies done on this feel-good effect of Botox over the past 20 years. Our esteemed colleague Connie Brennan in Minnesota published an article for the American Society of Plastic Surgical Nurses in 2016 about the influence of treatments on the relationship between facial expressions and mood.

But there is a difference with this study.  A big difference.

It began with an analysis of 45,000 reports of adverse events resulting from Botox treatments in the U.S. The report studied Botox treatment for eight different reasons and injection sites, including forehead, neck, limbs and bladder. Then the team applied a mathematical algorithm to look for statistically significant differences between Botox users and patients who received different treatments for the same conditions.

Here’s what they found:

Depression was reported 40 to 88 percent less often by Botox-treated patients for six of the eight conditions and injection sites.

Men and women respond well to treatments

“This finding is exciting,” said Tigran Makunts, PharmD, one of the study leaders. “It supports a new treatment to affect mood and fight depression, one of the common and dangerous mental illnesses — and it’s based on a very large body of statistical data, rather than limited-scale observations.”

It is exciting. Especially when considering that an estimated 250 million people worldwide are suffering from depression.

CNN Report: Botox could ease depression in addition to wrinkles, study finds

Botox has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. It was only in 1987 that Vancouver doctors Jean and Alastair Carruthers accidentally changed the face of medical aesthetics – pun intended – and unknowingly launched a billion-dollar industry.

Jean was an ophthalmologist, who was treating patients with spasms or uncontrollable blinking (blepharospasm) with a dilute solution of botulinum toxin to temporarily paralyse the twitching muscles. Jean mentioned to her husband Alastair, a dermatologist, how one patient was impressed that her wrinkles disappeared after her treatment.

The light bulb went click!

Reader’s Digest: The Real Story Behind the Birth of Botox

Alastair immediately experimented with using a neurotoxin to disrupt the nerve signaling processes that stimulate muscle contraction.

And it worked. They presented their results at an American Society for Dermatologic Surgery meeting in 1991. Two years later, Botox treatments were a worldwide sensation.

Botox injections prevent the release of acetylcholine, which stops the muscle cells from contracting. As the muscles become less stiff, the winkles and line appear to fill in, leaving the injected area looking smooth and younger looking.

The cosmetic benefits were soon followed by therapeutic breakthroughs as neurotoxins were proven to alleviate medical conditions such as excessive sweating, migraines, overactive bladders, spasticity issues and more.

And now there is this newest study and findings that are again thrusting Botox into the medical spotlight.

A proverbial ounce of prevention for a pound of cure?

More clinical research needs to be done on this, of course, before any sort of large-scale preventative measures can even be considered. But the outcome could be enormously beneficial to millions of people.

In the meantime, aesthetics practitioners will continue to administer treatments with Botox (as well as Dysport and other neurotoxins) to help people look better.

And know in our hearts – and for a fact! –  that many will feel better.

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