Botox and Depression – What Does the Science Say?

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Several studies have been done that examine the interaction of Botox and depressive episodes. One of the most recent, according to Science Direct, mentions that Botox may actually be helpful in the treatment of depression after conducting a meta-analysis of the current data. Despite the new paper’s publication, several scholars are still in doubt about the drug’s effectiveness. Botox is a toxin, specifically botulinum A, to paralyze muscle tissue. It’s made its way into beauty and cosmetic treatments across the world as a wrinkle remover. Healthline notes that Botox as a cosmetic treatment was initially approved by the FDA in 1989 but eventually expanded into widespread cosmetic use later.

Other Medical Uses of Botox

Despite its use as a cosmetic aid, it also sees quite a lot of popularity in unique treatments. Time Magazine reports that doctors have used Botox to treat several ailments, including excessive sweaty armpits and an overactive bladder. Is it any stranger to consider that the drug might help treat depression?  While the topic is still under debate, the previously mentioned paper does have its critics in the medical profession. Their hesitation isn’t strange – new ideas usually take time to take root. However, commentary on Botox to treat depression comes from another researcher who also did a similar trial.

The Opposite Conclusion

Nicholas Coles, a researcher involved in a similar meta-analysis study of the data in 2019, noted in his paper published back then that there were problems with using Botox in treating depression. The 2019 paper drew the opposite conclusion to the one mentioned by Science Direct, suggesting that more research may be needed to determine the efficacy of the treatment. As a rebuttal to the current paper, Coles noted that there should be more skepticism regarding the conclusion drawn by the researchers. With research so divided over the issue, what are those of us who don’t have advanced science degrees to think? Can we trust science’s take on Botox to treat depression, or is it too soon to tell? Even trained staff from Injectable Academy can’t tell you if it’s better for depression or not.

Balancing Sample Size with Significant Effects

The studies had a few questionable approaches, which Cole’s team spotted and pointed out as the reason for concern. Most of the five trials used involved small sample sizes. The number of participants in the experiment was small in comparison to the larger population. This shortcoming might not seem like a huge deal, but with small experiments like these, it’s easy to get significant results that may not be replicable in a larger population. Since extrapolation is necessary to draw conclusions for the wider world, a small sample size can skew results towards or away from a particular outcome. All of this is in addition to the side effects that Botox can have when administered to people. While Botox has been approved for use, it still may cause swelling and problems swallowing or breathing. The big question science needs to answer, preferably with more experimentation, is if these results apply to the larger population of the world. If so, do the risks of using Botox for depression outnumber the benefits? The jury’s still out on whether it’s a viable treatment.

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