Could Botox Be An Effective Treatment For Your Depression?

One of the cruel ironies of depression is that the deeper you are within its throes, the more difficult it can be to seek the motivation for help. Even if you're able to recognize that you're suffering from depression and willing to pursue treatment, finding something that works for you among the plethora of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other brain chemistry-altering medications can be a frustrating trial and error process. However, one option you may not have considered is more commonly seen as a cosmetic treatment. Read on to learn more about how Botox injections can work to help depression, as well as some of the factors you'll want to consider when deciding to pursue this treatment.

How does Botox effectively treat depression?

Originally developed and used for its therapeutic effects on migraines and other conditions resulting from overuse of the facial muscles, Botox was quickly discovered to have anti-aging properties as well -- relaxing and temporarily paralyzing the facial muscles that can cause wrinkles. Soon after that, researchers discovered another unexpected benefit -- some of those who had reported suffering from depression before their botox use noticed a decrease in depressive symptoms correlated to their initial Botox injection.

Subsequent research has determined that paralysis of certain facial muscles can eliminate these muscles' ability to connect to the part of the brain that is more active in depressive patients, minimizing symptoms of depression. While a cure for a depressive disorder isn't nearly as simple as "smile more often," it's true that there is a direct connection between the muscles used to smile (or scowl) and your general mood.

What should you consider when deciding whether to pursue Botox treatment for your depression symptoms? 

If you weren't aware that Botox was an option for depression treatment, there are a few factors you'll want to take into account before pursuing this.

  • Cost and insurance coverage

Because Botox is still considered a primarily cosmetic treatment by many, it can sometimes be tough to have this treatment covered by your insurance policy -- even if the coverage of other depression medications was unquestioned. Although most insurance companies will provide coverage for Botox if you can prove that it's being used for a therapeutic, rather than cosmetic, purpose, it can be a good idea to contact your insurance company first to see what (if any) documentation they'll require to approve your claim. 

  • Feasibility of other options

Some prescription antidepressants can carry long and sometimes intimidating lists of side effects; in contrast. Botox is relatively harmless, and any potential side effects should resolve themselves before the botox is naturally eliminated from your body. If you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or have another physical condition that could make some antidepressant side effects too risky, Botox may be your better initial treatment option. 

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