Struggling with depression can be overwhelming. Major depression is a common mental health disorder that can create severe obstacles to activities. For those who suffer from major depression, living can become a burden.
The National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) data defines major depression as:
- A period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities and had a majority of specified symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy,
- concentration, or self-worth.
- No exclusions were made for major depressive episode symptoms caused by medical illness, substance use disorders, or medication.
NIMH also relays the statistics for the prevalence of major depressive episode among adults:
- An estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 7.1% of all U.S. adults.
- The prevalence of major depressive episodes was higher among adult females (8.7%) compared to males (5.3%).
- The prevalence of adults with major depressives episodes was highest among individuals aged 18-25 (13.1%).
- The prevalence of major depressive episodes was highest among adults reporting two or races (11.3%).
- An estimated 65% received combined care by a health professional and medication treatment.
- Treatment with medication alone was the least common (6%).
- Approximately 35% of adults with major depressive episodes did not receive treatment.
Standard treatment for major depressive episodes isn’t always effective. Researchers have discovered a surprising regimen for the disorder: Botox. You may be wondering “what is Botox?” Botox is well-known for its use as a cosmetic procedure to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
The Benefits of Botox
Botox is more than a remedy for wrinkles. Doctors have prescribed it for
- Chronic migraines
- Excessive underarm sweating
- Overactive bladder
- Premature ejaculation
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Severely cold hands
- Cleft lip scars in babies
- Painful sex
- Severe neck spasms
Botox can aid in reducing symptoms from a major depressive disorder. Botox also doesn’t have the side effects some people experience with antidepressants.
A study titled “Efficacy of Botox versus Placebo for Treatment of Patients with Major Depression” researched whether or not Botox is an effective treatment for those with major depressive disorder. The study consisted of 28 patients with major depressive disorder. The patients were assigned to either receive a placebo or Botox. Researchers followed the patients for six weeks.
At the end of the first week, two of the researchers saw little difference between the patients in the placebo group and those in the Botox group. However, the results after six weeks were encouraging. The patients who were given Botox showed an improvement in their major depressive disorder. The same patients were also found to have little or no side effects from Botox. This finding offers hope to researchers, therapists, and those with major depressive disorder.
How Does Botox Relieve Symptoms of Depression?
Studies regarding the effectiveness of Botox for the treatment of major depressive disorder began in 2006. A study in 2016 published in the Journal of The American Academy of Dermatology theories demonstrated how:
- BTA yields a cosmetic effect, which indirectly leads to improved mood
- More pleasant facial expressions lead to positive social feedback with resultant mood improvement
- Decreased glabellar muscle activation decreases afferent nerve signals back to the brain, thereby reducing “negative emotional feedback”
- BTA itself reaches the brain, causing direct effects on emotional processing
A preliminary finding was the benefit of Botox can be linked to “facial feedback.” Emotions and their expressions can send feedback to the brain. Botox suppresses the contraction in the forehead that produces frown lines. The suppression of the frown lines may result in improved mood. For those who tried everything and still suffer from the effects of major depressive disorder, the idea of Botox may be worth considering.
What to Expect at a Botox Appointment
Before choosing a doctor to give you a Botox injection, take the time to find a doctor who not only specializes in providing injections but can also address your mental health needs. Here is the step by step procedure for getting a Botox injection:
- The doctor will clean your face with an alcohol wipe
- A medication will be injected to numb the area
- Botox will be injected into the muscles between your eyebrows
Botox causes temporary paralysis of the fine or frown lines found between your eyes or on the forehead region. The paralysis is thought to suppress the mood feedback to the brain. Without a frown forming between your eyes, it is believed that depression is suppressed.
Botox Side Effects vs. Antidepressant Side Effects
Based on findings from the Mayo Clinic, Botox side effects can include:
- pain, swelling, or bruising near the injection site
- flu-like symptoms
- droopy eyebrow or eyelid
- dry eyes or increased tears
The effects of Botox are thought to last for several weeks longer than when used for cosmetic purposes. On the other hand, the side effects of antidepressants can include:
- sexual dysfunction
- increased appetite
- weight gain
When to Contact Your Doctor
Sometimes the use of Botox can result in severe side effects such as
- muscle weakness
- vision changes
- problems speaking or swallowing
- breathing difficulties
- loss of bladder control
If any of these symptoms occur, you should immediately call your doctor and let them know. These side effects are not typical and only happen in rare cases.
Before deciding to use Botox as a part of treatment for major depressive disorder, talk with your therapist about the pros and cons. Ask whether you will remain on an antidepressant, how it will work, and if it is right for you. Botox, when combined with the proper treatment, can be an effective way to help you cope with the symptoms of major depressive disorder.
Choosing to try something new for your major depressive disorder doesn’t need to be overwhelming. If you exhausted the standard care treatments prescribed by your doctor or therapist, take the time to ask about using Botox as a treatment for major depressive disorder. Studies show how Botox—when combined with therapy, and if necessary, an antidepressant—can improve your mental health.
Before you decide to start Botox, consult with your doctor or therapist on how you will decrease your current antidepressant. Also, trying genetic testing to see how certain antidepressants affect you is useful; ask your therapist if you can try genetic testing. Following all avenues to improve your major depressive disorder can help you understand your genetic predisposition to certain medications, how they can interact with your body, and if Botox can help relieve your major depressive symptoms. Call Achieve Concierge for more information at (619) 393-5871.