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Can Botox Injections be a Potential Treatment for Depression?

Botox injection are commonly used to ease migraine, excessive sweating, wrinkles, muscle spasms, and incontinence may also alleviate depression, says a new study. In a recent study published in the journal scientific reports, scientists discovered that people who were given Botox injections at six different places on their body reported depression much less often than people who are under treatment for the same condition.

Botox injections are also used to treat conditions such as overactive bladder and a lazy eye and may also prevent chronic migraines. These injections use a toxin called onobotulinumtoxinA that temporarily prevents a muscle from moving. The Microbe that causes botulism, a type of food poisoning, is used to create this toxin. Botox was the first drug in which botulinum toxin was used.

More than 250 million people around the world suffer from depression and common treatments don’t work for nearly 33% of the patients, even if they follow their treatment plans, according to WHO. This problem has made doctors look for alternative treatments such as ketamine infusions. Psilocybin and recently Botox injections. Prior studies of the last 15 years show that the drug might have antidepressant effects.

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The researchers analyzed more than 45000 reports, to address the limitations of past studies, of adverse events arising from the Botox treatments from the Adverse Event Reporting System of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The system provides surveillance for adverse effects of drugs as reported by drug manufacturers, health care workers, and patients to the FDA by using MedWatch, which is the safety information and Adverse event program of the FDA.

The patients, who were most frequently treated with Botox, were divided into eight groups according to their medical symptoms. These were:

  1. Neck pain
  2. Migraine
  3. Cosmetic use for facelifts, wrinkles, dermal fillers or more
  4. Spasticity or limb spasms (when muscles are tightened or stiffen and prevent speech, movement, and walking)
  5. Spasming of the eyelids or involuntary blinking
  6. Excessive sweating
  7. Excessive drooling
  8. Urinary bladder and neurological disorders

These patients were further divided into two groups, one group was given Botox treatment while the other was not. Patients who were given the Botox injections to treat facial wrinkles, spasticity, excessive sweating, migraine, and spasms reported 40 to 88% less depression than people who underwent other treatments for similar conditions.

The lead author of the study and a professor at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California said that his team has found that the effect of the treatment doesn’t depend on the location of the injection and it doesn’t depend on the medical conditions either. He further believes that the implications of this study are fascinating because it means that the depression can be cured not necessarily by injection in one of the facial muscles but by different means.

The clinical trials that are underway are directly treating depression patients with Botox injections which can be defined as a gold standard approach for collecting information on the relationship between a health condition and a medication. In the trials the patients are only being injected on their foreheads, that is the reason that Abagyan believes that additional trials will be needed to know the best dose and site for the treatment of depression.