When it comes to cosmetic treatments, it is often the case that the psychological benefits outlast the physical ones. Regular studies over the past decade have pointed towards Botox injections in particular proving highly effective in tackling depression. While Botox injections are commonly associated with vain celebrities desperately trying to remain youthful, in actual fact there are some potentially life-changing – and life-saving – ways in which it can make an impact on people.
How Botox can tackle depression
With the World Health Organization estimating that depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide, the battle against this debilitating mental health condition is an increasingly daunting one. In the UK, the NHS lists a wide range of possible solutions to depression and anxiety, suggesting that sufferers are yet to settle on one effective method – exercise, greater social activity, healthy diets and alcohol avoidance sound more hopeful than definitive in their attempted resolution of depression.
Antidepressants are the preferred medical way of tackling depression, but even these can have varied results depending on the patient, with nausea, sexual dysfunction and loss of appetite potential side-effects. Compared to the lower-level nature of Botox injection side effects – slight, short-term pain or swelling at the injection site, or a droopy eyebrow – and it is easy to see why Botox injections might be an appealing alternative for many.
And science has backed up Botox’s claims as a depression beater. A 2012 study saw 30 people with depressive symptoms take part, with half of participants injected with Botox in the frown lines between their eyes and the other half injected in the same place with a saline solution. The Botox recipients reported an impressive 47.1% decrease in symptoms, compared to a 9.3% decrease in the saline recipients. Another study in 2014 saw similar results, with the added boost of participants reporting improved symptoms after 24 weeks, which went beyond the 12-16 week period in which the cosmetic effects of Botox usually last – suggesting that the effects on mental health last a lot longer.
How Botox injections work
Like many non-surgical, non-invasive cosmetic treatments, Botox is increasingly popular around the world. Procedures are becoming so commonplace that forecasts point towards the global Botox market surpassing $8.5 billion by 2024.Botox injections utilise the toxin botulinum, which causes paralysis, and in small diluted amounts can be used to temporarily halt the muscles that cause frown lines and other creases on the face.
By reducing the frequency of such muscles being used, people can regain a smooth, youthful-looking face that rolls back the effects of the stressful experiences of life. This can be particularly important for sections of society particularly vulnerable to the consequences of an aged and haggard appearance. Botox injections have been recommended for working mothers who are perhaps more likely to feel the long-term effects of caring for young children while trying to hold down a career. In some lines of work such as sales, Botox has been cited as particularly beneficial because those jobs commonly rely on personal impact and strong physical appearance in achieving success.
Why Botox injections treat many medical conditions
But Botox injections have far greater use beyond cosmetic treatment. Its use extends to addressing muscular disorders such as lazy eye and spasms such as blepharospasm, which affects the eyelids, and Idiopathic rotational cervical dystonia, which occurs in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. It can also address the issue of crossed eyes, otherwise known as strabismus.
Botox injections can also tackle incontinence, with direct injections into the bladder proving to be effective against over activity; Botox can also prevent excessive sweating, otherwise known as severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis. It is also known to be effective against chronic migraines.
Ensuring Botox remains a safe and reliable treatment
In the UK and US, steps have been taken to ensure Botox injections remain a safe and regulated practice, with formal guidelines set out for practitioners to follow to ensure treatments are administered in a professional manner and only to patients who will genuinely benefit from it. In the US, the FDA has made recommendations on the ideal frequency of Botox injections, as well as the conditions in which they are performed and the suitable training of who is handling them.
In the UK, a new body has been formed to ensure practitioners receive the right level of training for the safe performance of Botox injections. The Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners commits registered practitioners to online training courses on mental health in particular, which provide guidance and advice on what to do with vulnerable patients who request Botox treatment. While this clarifies the suitability of each patient, it also provides vital knowledge for practitioners in maintaining the responsible role of Botox injections in the mental health of patients.