Botox—Yes *That* Botox—Can Help Fight Depression

It doesn't just smooth wrinkles—a study shows it may improve your mood.

Botox Needles
(Image credit: Design by Betsy Farrell)

When Botox was introduced in 2002, it was widely scorned as a perfectly insane medical choice. Purposefully injecting your face with a toxin responsible for infectious disease for the sole purpose of looking a few years younger seemed laughably dangerous and shallow. But in the decade and a half since, Botox injections have become the most popular cosmetic procedure in the country by far—and medical professionals are constantly finding new ways to use the substance.

The paralyzing effect of botulism toxin is approved to combat ailments like migrainescrossed eyes (strabismus), and excessive sweating, and a study actually suggests that Botox injections might ease depression.

Researchers at the University of Texas-Austin tested four theories that: 1) Looking better makes a person feel better, 2) Less frowning makes for more positive social interaction, 3) Paralyzing frown muscles decreases signals to the brain to be sad, and 4) Botox injections actually reach your brain somehow.

They actually debunked... all four of these theories. Yet their subjects still felt less depressed across the board (or rather, experienced a remission of depression). In fact, they cite past research that nine out of 10 participants saw reductions in symptoms of major depressive disorder when treated with Botox. The only answer is, of course, more scientific inquiry.

In the mean time, it's exciting to consider how a cosmetic product once deemed shallow might actually fight one of the deadliest illnesses on the planet. Mull on that, judgy people.

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Kaitlin Menza