Depression and bipolar disorder affects millions of people around in the world. In the United States, the disorders affect nearly 15 million adults, or 6.7 percent of the population, says the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).
Researchers are working hard to discover new, effective treatments with mixed success. However, a number of studies have suggested that Botox – the drug famously used to tighten up wrinkles and minimize signs of aging – may be the newest weapon in the arsenal against depressive disorders.
Research also indicates that Botox may be an effective treatment for borderline personality disorder.
What is Botox?
Botox (botulinum toxin) is formulated from Clostridium botulinum,the same bacterium that causes botulism, a potentially deadly type of food poisoning. However, in small doses, it is not only an effective cosmetic treatment, but also alleviates a number of conditions including chronic migraine headaches, urinary incontinence, certain types of neck pain, severe sweating and uncontrollable blinking (blepharospasm).
Treating Depression and other Disorders: How Does it Work?
When injected into the face, Botox controls wrinkles by blocking certain nerves, thus weakening or paralyzing facial muscles and smoothing out wrinkles.
Depression and other negative emotions involve the muscles above the nose and between the eyes – the area where frown lines develop. Scientists believe that the frown muscles are connected to the areas of the brain associated with emotions.
Thus, paralyzing the frown muscles in the forehead may actually alleviate the negative emotions connected with the act of frowning. In other words, the inability to express feelings of sadness and depression via frowning may actually alleviate the symptoms.
Researchers at George Washington University in Washington DC are heavily involved in research regarding Botox and depressive disorders. One controlled trial involved 75 individuals who received injections of a saline solution or Botox.
Reduction of depressive symptoms was significant after a single treatment and benefits were present as long as six weeks later.
Studies are ongoing
Studies have also been conducted at Germany’s Hannover Medical School. The studies, which involved women who were given botox via acupuncture, produced results similar to those at George Washington University
An interesting study in the United States involved participants who were asked to read sad, angry or happy statements. Individuals who received Botox injections in their frown muscles were unable to frown and as a result, had a difficult time processing the angry and sad statements.
Does it Work?
Some experts believe that similar results may be achieved if people can learn relaxation techniques that involve the frown muscles. However, this has yet to be proven.
There’s no doubt that further research is necessary, as research thus far is limited. However, researchers are hopeful that Botox testing may lead to an effective treatment with fewer side effects than antidepressant medications, especially for individuals whose depression isn’t relieved by medications.
Often, individuals who suffer with disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to feel better. Unfortunately, any benefit is short-lived and addiction often results.
If you have a problem with a depressive disorder associated with substance abuse or addiction, consider seeking drug and alcohol treatment or rehab as soon as possible.
At Paracelsus, we always stay up-to-date with the latest research and we’ll be among the first to implement new treatment methods as soon as they successfully pass clinical trials and receive official approvals.