Well-Being

Could Botox be used to help reduce anxiety?

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Story at a glance

  • Researchers from the University of California San Diego analyzed a sample of 40,000 people receiving Botox for various reasons.
  • The study found reported anxiety risk was 22 to 72 percent lower in patients treated with Botox for four of eight conditions and injection sites.
  • Researchers note further study is needed to understand if and how Botox can reduce anxiety.

Botox injections are typically used to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles and treat conditions like neck spasms and chronic migraine, but new research suggests the shots could potentially be used to reduce anxiety. 

Researchers from the University of California San Diego searched the Food and Drug Administration’s Adverse Effect Reporting System (FAERS) database for the absence or reduced frequency of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders as a health complaint, compared to a control group, when taking Botox. 

“A large number of diverse adverse effects are being reported to the FDA and the main objective usually is to find those harmful side effects that had not been identified during clinical trials,” Ruben Abagyan, professor of pharmacy at the University of California San Diego, said in a statement

“However, our idea was different. Why don’t we do the opposite? Why don’t we find beneficial effects?” 


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Researchers used a mathematical algorithm to observe significant differences between people given Botox for a variety of reasons and those who received different treatments for the same conditions. The study found reported anxiety risk was 22 to 72 percent lower in patients treated with Botox for four of eight conditions and injection sites: facial muscles for cosmetic use; facial and head muscles for migraine; upper and lower limbs for spasm and spasticity; and neck muscles for torticollis. 

The study’s authors said there was not enough data for statistically significant confidence intervals for the other four injection sites. Reports of patients using antidepressants or anxiolytic medications were excluded. 

Researchers note further study is needed to understand if and how Botox can reduce anxiety, but hypothesis Botulinum toxins may be transported to the regions of the central nervous system involved in mood and emotions. They also say Botox used to treat chronic conditions may indirectly relieve anxiety.

The study was published Tuesday in Scientific Reports.


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