Botox is one of the most popular anti-aging methods for fighting wrinkles. It is a drug developed from botulin and removes the wrinkles by paralyzing facial muscles. The $1.3 billion Botox treatment lasts approximately 100 days and millions of patients use it worldwide, who report seeing improvements within a week.
In addition to Botox being used for cosmetic purposes, doctors also use it in small doses to treat a variety of health problems, such as uncontrollable blinking, misaligned eyes, cervical dystonia (a neurological disorder) and severe underarm perspiration. There are very little side effects, which may include headaches, the flu, minor pain or an upset stomach.
Since Botox can be used for physical conditions, can it also be utilized for psychological and/or emotional health issues? According to researchers, patients who have been diagnosed with depression and have not responded to medications and treatments could one day be prescribed Botox treatments, especially after the results of a couple of study.
Last year, scientists published the findings of its study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, which highlighted that research participants who were given a single dose (five injections) of botulinum toxin in the region of the face between and just above the eyebrows noted a 47 percent decrease of depression symptoms after just six weeks.
"Our study of 74 patients who completed the trial showed a significant improvement in the Botox group and found that 27 percent of Botox patients went into remission, as compared to 7 percent of the placebo group," said Eric Finzi, MD, medical director of the Chevy Chase Cosmetic Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland and study co-author. "I propose it works by a process that I call emotional proprioception."
Why does it work? Since we frown, the muscles between our eyebrows send back negative emotional signals to our brain, which then concludes we are upset. Due to the fact that Botox injections make it very difficult to frown, "the lack of this negativity then creates a tremendously significant positive effect on our brain's assessment of our mental state."
Study authors do note that Botox treatments last about three to four months so depression patients would need repeated doses. Furthermore, any botox prescription would be administered for depression and not for cosmetic purposes.
At the present time, Botox utilized as a depression treatment method is undergoing clinical trials. This consists of many steps before it can be approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is currently unknown when it would be approved by the federal department and if it would become the next Sarafem, Prozac or Cymbalta.
Health professionals do concur that more research is needed because there have only been a handful of studies to show a correlation between Botox and happiness - there have been at least two other studies to list the Botox-depression connection.
Whatever the case may be, there needs to be a respite in the U.S. soon. It is estimated that one in 10 Americans suffer from depression and it appears that antidepressants just mask the problem instead of finding the root causes.