After starting a cosmetic revolution… Botox to treat depression and anxiety!

A new study finds that Botox injections can help relieve symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Botulinum toxin (BTX) injections, commonly called “botox,” are primarily used for cosmetic procedures because they cause muscle relaxation, and when applied to certain areas of the face, botox can reduce wrinkles, EuroNews said citing a study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“Sadness Muscles”

Relaxation of the facial muscles has been the subject of numerous studies as scientists try to see if it can be used to alleviate the symptoms of psychological conditions. Specifically, the idea is that you can target what evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin called the “grief muscles.”

“This whole area of ​​research using botulinum toxin as a treatment for mental disorders is based on the facial feedback hypothesis,” said Dr. Axel Wollmer, a psychiatry expert and researcher at Semmelweis University in Hamburg and one of the lead authors of the study.


vicious circle

He added that this hypothesis dates back to Darwin and William James (known as the “father” of American psychology) from the nineteenth century, pointing out that it says that human facial expressions not only convey his emotional state to others, but also express it. to himself.

The theory is that while some facial expressions, such as frowning, are caused by negative emotions, the facial expressions themselves actually reinforce those emotions in a vicious cycle.

Woolmer said “one reinforces the other and can escalate to a critical level of emotional arousal that can be a problem in mental health settings.”

Glapilar space for relaxation

Together with researchers from Hannover Medical School in Germany, Wollmer and his team set out to build on previous research into injecting Botox into the glabellar region, the area of ​​the face above the nose and between the eyebrows, which often reflects a person’s stress. when experiencing negative emotions.

Wollmer explained that “when the facial muscles are activated to express an emotion, a stimulus signal is created in the body that returns from the face to the emotional brain and reinforces and maintains this emotional state. Only by embodying these emotions does one truly feel them as warm feelings.” and complete, or as soon as this embodiment is suppressed, the feelings subside and are not considered as such.

borderline personality disorder

Relaxing the grief muscles, the researchers sought to capture what happens in the brain when the positive feedback loop is interrupted, so they examined 45 patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD), one of the most common personality disorders.

The team of researchers explained that BPD patients suffer from an “excess of negative emotions,” including anger and fear. Wollmer said BPD patients “are kind of the prototype of being overwhelmed over and over again with a bunch of negative emotions that they can’t really control.” Then, some of the research participants received Botox injections, while the control group received acupuncture.



Magnetic resonance of the brain

Before the treatment and four weeks later, the participants were given a so-called emotional “go/no-go” task, in which they had to control their reactions to certain cues while looking at pictures of faces with different emotional expressions, while researchers scanned their brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). resonances. The trial produced mixed results, with Botox and acupuncture patients showing similar improvement after treatment, but the research team was motivated by two other results.

Smoothing the amygdala

MRI scans revealed for the first time how Botox injections modify the neurobiological aspects of BPD. MRI images showed a decrease in activity in the brain’s amygdala in response to emotional stimuli.

“We found a calming effect on the amygdala, which is critically involved in processing negative emotions and is overactive in BDD patients,” Wollmer said, adding that the same effect was not seen in the control group treated with acupuncture.

The researchers also noted that Botox injections reduced patients’ impulsive behavior during a go/no-go task, and it was associated with activation of frontal lobe brain regions involved in inhibitory control.

Treatment of depression with botox

Previous research has examined how Botox injections can interrupt feedback loops in other parts of the face and body.

A 2021 meta-analysis examining data from 40,000 Botox-injected patients in the US Food and Drug Administration’s database found that anxiety disorders were 22 to 72 percent less common than patients receiving other treatments for the same conditions. A similar study was conducted in 2020 on the stressful effects of botox injections, which showed that depression can be treated with it, as well as prevent it.

Other mental illnesses

Wollmer said that well-established treatments such as psychotherapy or antidepressants do not work well enough for about a third of patients with depression, “so there is a need to develop new treatment options, and that’s where Botox injections could play a role,” expressing his hope and his research team to see the results. , which has been further investigated in a larger phase 3 clinical trial, where researchers will see if other mental health conditions can be treated with the Botox injection approach.

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