Can Botox Help Treat Depression?

The connection between physical appearances and mental health may not be as far apart as some people might think. A dermatologist from Maryland has recently published a book suggesting that the tightened facial muscles that he targets with Botox injections may lead to depression. The findings, presented in “The Face of Emotion: How Botox Affects Our Mood and Relationships” suggest that the psychological condition of depression is based upon more factors than simple life conditions or brain chemistry. These findings could incorporate aspects of aesthetic medicine into mental health treatment that previously were considered two very separate entities.

Smile More, Feel Better

The words we use to communicate emotion and mood are either augmented or juxtaposed by the expression on our faces. A simple smile or frown can be enough to convey a wealth of information that would require far more time to properly express with words. Additionally, a person’s mood can be quite heavily influenced by the verbal and non-verbal communication about them. The simple act of smiling at a person, for example, can be enough in many cases to elevate that person’s mood and make them feel better about themselves. By contrast, a frowning face can make others reflect on their own misfortunes or sadness. People who do not look out with a frown on their face are far more likely to enjoy better mood.

Psychology Meets Plastic Surgery

This book is one of the newest arguments in favor of the emotional utility of aesthetic medicine, but it is hardly the only one. Psychologists suggest that depression is a function of neural conduits in our brain that transfer negative expressions into negative moods. By breaking these conduits with an act as simple as a smile, depression can be alleviated or even lifted. The patients who use Botox in order to reduce wrinkles or tighten skin have the added bonus of reducing the frown lines of the forehead and eyebrows. With a lesser frown line, patients not only feel better about themselves when looking into a mirror, but also gain greater positive reinforcement from friends or strangers who perceive a happier face. Independent research from European psychiatrists has concluded that select patients who received Botox for their depression instead of a placebo not only gained positive results, but also did so over an extended period of time.

What’s In A Botox Treatment?

Botulinum toxin can be injected at nearly any point on the human body. In addition to wrinkle correction, Botox is used for migraine relief and muscle spasms. The benefits of Botox now seem to go beyond cosmetics or aesthetics, meaning that patients looking for solutions to their depression issues may want to ask their physician about including Botox in their long-term mental health plan.