21 Sep 2023 | by Leonard Miller, MD, FACS, FRCS

The mind-body connection is something that we experience daily even if we’re not always aware of it. Think about how you feel after you exercise or meditate, for example. Increasing your oxygen intake can have a profoundly calming effect on your mind, making you feel more centered, grounded and relaxed. Interestingly, improving how you look may also have a positive effect on how you feel. In my own life, I know that when my skin is plump, hydrated and glowing, I feel more energetic and vital even if I haven’t been sleeping well. This is why I’m such a fan of subtle, natural looking treatments to help keep you looking refreshed.

Consistent Botox® treatments can reduce anxiety levels anywhere from 20% – 72%

Botox® is a critical component of this rejuvenation toolbox. And yes, my patients tell me that they are happier with the way they look after a Botox® procedure, but more importantly, they also tell me that they just feel happier. A recent study at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science at University of San Diego set out to prove that this Botox® mind-body connection is real.

University of San Diego Study on Botox®

For years, my colleagues and myself have noticed a pattern. By reducing the appearance of “worry” lines with an appropriate amount of Botox® between the eyebrows, for example, patients seem to actually worry less. According to the University of California San Diego study published last year in Scientific Reports, these observations are not just anecdotal. Researchers discovered that consistent Botox® treatments can reduce anxiety levels anywhere from 20% – 72%, and reduce depression level anywhere from 40% – 88%. These are some seriously compelling numbers especially when you consider how devastating anxiety and depression can be on even the smallest scale, adversely affecting every aspect of your life including:

  • Job performance
  • Relationships
  • Intimacy
  • Physical health
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Botox®, Anxiety and Depression

As a Board-Certified dermatologist, I am not an anxiety expert. I also don’t use Botox® to treat mood disorders. But I still find this news incredibly exciting considering how many people suffer from both anxiety and depression. In fact, anxiety is one of the most common illnesses in this country, affecting over 40 million adults annually. That is an astounding 18.1% of our population. Furthermore, over half of those with anxiety (19.4 million) also suffer from depression. There is a scale of severity for each that can range from simply annoying to debilitating to actually life threatening. While medications and therapy options exist to treat both, they don’t work for about 1/3 of sufferers. So the fact that Botox® may help improve anxiety and/or depression could be a game changer.

Botox® Refresher

In order to understand why Botox® may help to boost your mood, it’s important to remember how it works. Botox® is a neurotoxin. While definitely the most well-known, other neurotoxins that we use regularly here at Boston Center for Plastic Surgery include Dysport® and Xeomin®. A neurotoxin is an injectable, like fillers, but it works in a completely different manner. A filler literally fills in a fine line or wrinkle by replacing lost volume. Fat grafting works in the same way. Botox®, on the other hand, smooths out the surface of your treatment area by temporarily inhibiting the movement of the underlying dynamic muscle. These are typically the muscles that you use to express your emotions. A perfect example is the glabellar or “11” lines between your eyebrows which is probably one of the most common treatment areas for Botox®.

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How May Botox® Improve Your Mental Health?

While it is still unclear exactly how the mind-body connection works with Botox®, researchers are studying a couple of possibilities. The most obvious one is that there appears to be a feedback loop between facial expression, and the part of your brain that processes emotions. By inhibiting the ability of your brow to furrow as severely, for example, it is harder to show “negative” emotions such as:

  • Worry
  • Concern
  • Panic
  • Fear

This appears to induce a calming effect on the nerve pathways to your brain so that you don’t actually feel these emotions as strongly.

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Other Possible Botox® – Mood Connections

An interesting thing in the study is that it didn’t seem to matter whether the Botox® was injected into your “11” lines or elsewhere. This is why researchers believe that the mechanism is more complex. They are looking into other connections such as whether or not Botox® is transported to the areas of the central nervous system that involve your emotions and mood. Or if it’s more about the fact that many of the issues that bring a patient into the office to discuss Botox® such as:

  • Fine lines & wrinkles
  • Disconnect between reflection & how young you feel on the inside
  • Looking tired when well rested
  • Having people ask if you are angry even when you are happy

These things can often result in feeling more anxious and depressed which is why rejuvenating your appearance may also rejuvenate your mental health.

To find out more about Botox® at the Boston Center for Plastic Surgery, contact us today or call (617) 735- 8735 to schedule a consultation.

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