Botox for Depression

Botox ® makes many people happy on a superficial level, yet now there is a study reporting it may be more than just a surface effect. “Don’t Worry, Get Botox ” by Richard A. Freeman was a recent article in the New York Times, and it described a soon to be published study that showed Botox® may be useful in treating depression.

The study was performed by a cosmetic dermatologist and professor of psychiatry, and included 74 patients with major depression randomized to get either Botox ® or placebo, and those that received Botox® had a greater relief in depression than those that received placebo. This is not the first study to show this either, as the article notes 2 prior studies showing similar findings.

The makes one question of which comes first- does depression leading to frowning or furrowing the brow, or does the physical expression influence your mood? If by preventing the physical motion, can one prevent depression? Or stress?

I’ve had many patients anecdotally tell me they feel less stress after having Botox® between the brows, and feel it is because the brow is forced to stay in a relaxed state (since the muscle is partially paralyzed from the Botox ®). We all know emotions can influence our thoughts and be visible in our expressions.

It is interesting to think of it the other way around –that both thoughts from the brain and physical expressions from muscles can influence our emotions.