New research shows Botox injections are being considered for severe depression and bipolar disorder because it stops frowning and this lack of frowning has a positive impact on neurotransmitters and mood. I recently posted this on Facebook and asked this question:
I’m curious if you have had Botox injections or would consider it (for cosmetic reasons) or perhaps for migraines, dystonia, proctalgia fugax or depression/bipolar?
If you have had Botox injections are you happy with the result or did you have any adverse effects like increased anxiety, panic attacks or anything else?
The response was varied with most folks saying they would never consider using Botox for cosmetic reasons, some folks saying they used Botox for cosmetic reasons and had issues and some folks saying they’ve used Botox for cosmetic reasons and love it, and others who have used Botox for non-cosmetic reasons.
All the practitioners who commented have concerns about Botox saying results are mixed with some of their clients having severe reactions and some doing fine. As I looked further into this topic I’ve gained additional insights and my biggest concern for you, and my community, is that Botox can lead to very severe anxiety and panic attacks.
I encourage you to keep an open mind about my Botox concerns if you have chronic anxiety that is not resolving and it started (or got worse) after receiving Botox injections, or if you’re considering Botox injections.
Anxiety, panic attacks, inability to handle stress, body shaking
I gained my biggest insights from the Botox Dysport (Side Effects) Support group. Someone suggested I look into this group and I requested an invite to join so I could learn more. So many of the members of this support group report anxiety, panic attacks, inability to handle stress, body shaking and problems connecting socially. This is what one member shared:
…just joining the dots, I’ve been unwell for a few years since getting Botox but didn’t put it together until having it last week and going into panic attacks / ER.
Since then extreme anxiety and I’ve ended up in a mental health facility on benzodiazepines (ativan/valium). Reactions / withdrawal has been severe, have started to put it all together whilst reading through this page.
I’m realising that my decline, immune system failure (chronic epstein barr) fatigue, loss of motivation, loss of appetite, shaking in my body, muscle atrophy, anxiety, no motivation to connect socially, can’t handle any stress, can’t relax, tinnitus, breathing trouble and the list goes on is from botox…. scared to say the least as doesn’t seem to be a solution, I was worried to get Botox originally and obviously am eating myself up with regret, thought I would share if anyone has a similar story.
There are many similar posts to this one and it’s heart-breaking, especially because they say they are not being heard by their doctors.
I had a short online conversation with one of the moderators and she shared they suspect Botox is impacting the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis leading to high cortisol and causing their anxiety symptoms. Many of the members find relief with Seriphos, which is a phosphorylated serine product I’ve had great success with. Here is my blog post on Seriphos for anxiety and insomnia related to high cortisol.
I asked if any of the members find GABA or serotonin support helpful and for some GABA helps ease the physical tension and for other members tryptophan or 5-HTP helps ease the worry type of anxiety. However for others, the amino acids seem to have a paradoxical effect and make symptoms worse.
I’ve never been in favor of Botox for cosmetic reasons simply because I’m not a fan of putting foreign objects/toxins into the body and because I believe in aging gracefully with confidence. I do find that many women feel the need for cosmetic Botox injections and other ways to try and look younger (such as breast implants and hair dye) because of low self-esteem and lack of confidence caused by low serotonin.
Botox for non-cosmetic purposes
Botox is also used for non-cosmetic purposes. Some of my neurologist colleagues also have concerns about cosmetic use and will only use Botox injections for the following:
- severe cases of dystonia
- migraines (to relax forehead muscles)
- proctalgia fugax /rectal spasms
Botox may also be used for multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms, pelvic pain and bladder issues, for TMJ, after a stroke and for chronic anal fissures in colitis (sphincter spasms can prevent anal fissures from healing).
I would love to see safer approaches for non-cosmetic Botox injections being researched and explored by practitioners. For example:
- Relief of dystonia symptoms using diet, GABA, tryptophan, zinc and vitamin B6
- Sublingual GABA to help to relax forehead muscles in those with migraines
- Sublingual GABA for the extremely painful proctalgia fugax. Could this also be considered in colitis patients?
Botox for mental health – we can do better with nutritional psychiatry
At the beginning of this blog I mentioned the new research that shows Botox injections are being considered for severe depression and bipolar disorder because it stops frowning. This lack of frowning has a positive impact on neurotransmitters and mood.
A study published in 2018, Clinical analysis of 86 botulism cases caused by cosmetic injection of botulinum toxin (BoNT), reports that botulism is a severe side effect of Botox injections with symptoms including: “headache, dizziness, insomnia, fatigue, blurred vision, eye opening difficulty, slurred speech, dysphagia [difficulty swallowing], constipation, and anxiety.”
The authors report these symptoms occur in the first 36 days after the Botox injections and that all symptoms resolved after botulinum antitoxin serum injections.
This conclusion clearly doesn’t address why there are so many folks in the Botox Dysport (Side Effects) Support group continue to experience long-term severe symptoms.
We also have research reporting a possible connection between Botox injections and thyroid autoimmunity.
I feel we can do better especially with what we know about nutritional psychiatry, the use of targeted individual amino acids, nutrients like lithium orotate, the gut-brain connections and everything covered in my book The Antianxiety Food Solution (my Amazon link) and on this blog.
A note of appreciation
I’d like to end with a note of appreciation to everyone who commented on my Facebook post, to the members of Botox Dysport (Side Effects) Support group on facebook (with over 5700 members as of this writing).
I’d also like to thank Diane Kazer for asking bold questions about Botox injections as part of her Non-Toxic Beauty Revolution Summit which addresses Botox, breast implant illness, toxins in your cosmetics and so much more. In my interview we talked extensively about the low serotonin/low self-esteem connections which I feel is a big missing piece for helping women who feel the desire or need to use cosmetic Botox in order to feel good and love themselves.
Diane writes about Botox here: Is Botox Safe? Top 3 Concerns & What to do if you’ve had it, sharing a brief history of botox, what she has uncovered about toxicity issues and possible detox solutions.
She also created this list of 58 Botox Illness Symptoms which she gave me permission to share here. She compiled this list from 1000+ people who have had Botox injections.
Because of Diane asking questions and this initial research I’ve done, I’m adding a question about past history of Botox injections to my client intake form and will be gathering more information from my community of anxious women to see if there are patterns as to why some folks have such bad reactions.
I do feel we need to be asking if Botox injections (cosmetic or non-cosmetic) are a possible root cause of anxiety and panic attacks because they are adding to the toxic burden in susceptible folks.
But I do acknowledge it’s challenging to unwind all the contributing factors because it depends on what is going on with each person, such as their gut health, other medications (benzodiazepines themselves can be problematic), past trauma, infections, poor adrenal health, low GABA, low serotonin, poor detox capacity, low bile production, genetics etc. Unfortunately there is no way to know in advance who will be harmed and if Botox is the tipping point.
Please comment below if you’ve had Botox injections and had adverse reactions or have benefited from them with no adverse reactions. And if you have not had Botox would you ever consider it? Feel free to post your questions too.