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Botox "Cure" for Depression? - August 3rd 2011, 09:56 PM

I was in my Cognitive Psychology class yesterday and we discussed a little bit about how your facial expressions (physical movements) can alter your emotions towards something. There has been a couple small studies (Example: putting a pencil between teeth vs. lips (smile vs. frown) and rating how much you like an image) that have shown a correlation between physical expressions and your emotions. There are some new studies about botox as a cure for depression. They would insert botox between your brows, so that you are less able/ incapable of frowning. The results showed a huge success-- depressed patients felt much less depressed after the Botox.

For those of you who need a ton of evidence and links and yada yada.... I'm going to try to provide the best I can. It's all new studies, so it may not be true or legit, but I found it interesting!

Thoughts? Opinions? You can google it yourself, but I've shown three sources here (one is a blog and two are from news places)

It has long been an assumption that there is a link between physical expression of emotions and the intensity of those emotions, otherwise known as the "facial feedback theory." A intriguing pilot study conducted in 2006 by Dermatologist Eric Finzi, M.D., Ph.D. evaluated the effectiveness of Botox in treating depression. In the study, Finzi injected ten women (nine with depression and one with bipolar disorder) with Botox in their glabellar frown lines. After two months, all nine with depression were diagnosed as no longer showing signs of depression. Even the woman with bipolar disorder reported improvements in mood.

Kathleen Delano had suffered from depression for years. Having tried psychotherapy and a number of antidepressant drugs in vain, she resigned herself to a life of suffering.

Then she tried Botox, the drug that became a rage a few years ago for smoothing out facial wrinkles.

In 2004, her physician injected five shots of the toxin into the muscles between Delano's eyebrows so that the Glenn Dale woman could no longer wrinkle her brow. Eight weeks later, according to a unusual study published this month, her depression had lifted.

"I didn't wake up the next morning and say, 'Hallelujah, I am well, I am healed,' " she said in an interview, but she noticed changes. "I found myself able to do the things I hadn't been doing. I feel I broke out of the shackles of depression to be in the mood to go out, to reconnect with people."

The pilot study of 10 patients is the first to provide empirical support for what a number of clinicians say they have noticed anecdotally: People who get their furrowed brows eliminated with Botox (botulinum toxin A) often report an improvement in mood.

Until now, the assumption was that they were just feeling better about their appearance. But the new study by local dermatologist Eric Finzi suggests that something else may be at work. Finzi found that even patients such as Delano, who were not seeking cosmetic improvement, showed a dramatic decrease in depression symptoms.

"Maybe the frown is not just an end result of the depression; maybe you need to frown in order to be depressed," Finzi said in an interview. "I don't think it has anything to do with making you look better. These patients were not coming to me for Botox; they were coming because I was offering a new treatment for depression."

Some patients in Finzi's study were receiving other treatments for depression; Finzi required that there be no change in those treatments for three months before he injected the Botox.

Finzi agreed that the effects of Botox on depression must be investigated in a much larger study before any conclusions about a link can be established, but a growing body of work suggests that changing expressions can influence mood. People asked to smile while watching a cartoon, for instance, report it is funnier than people who are not asked to smile.

Alastair Carruthers, president-elect of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, agreed that Finzi's study provides new insight into a phenomenon clinicians have noticed.

"Anyone who has injected much Botox into the frown area has had people come in and say they can't believe how they feel better as a result," said Carruthers, clinical professor in dermatology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, in an interview. "We've not really been able to put our fingers on why. . . . We have been doing research based on appearance, but it may be due to some mood-altering effect of Botox that we don't understand."

Finzi's study was published this month in the society's journal, Dermatologic Surgery.

A new study has found that Botox may cure severe depression, and other studies have found the toxin can be used to fight Parkinson's disease, control bladder problems, and treat prostate cancer.

According to a paper published last week in the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery, a small pilot study conducted by Dr. Eric Finzi found nine of 10 depressed patients recovered from their depressive symptoms after getting Botox injections between the eyebrows -- nearly twice the success rate of anti-depressants. Finzi has since expanded his study to 15 patients.

"The 14 of 15 actually went from being depressed to no longer being depressed," said Finzi, a medical director and president of Chevy Chase Cosmetic Center in Chevy Chase, Md., and Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Associates in Greenbelt, Md.

Finzi said he was testing the theory that Botox makes you stop scowling, which directly relieves your depression as feedback from facial muscles regulates the brain.

"There are a series of patients who have paralyzed facial muscles, and they have problems feeling sad," Finzi said. "So, they may be able to think sad, but they can't feel sad."

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Re: Botox "Cure" for Depression? - August 3rd 2011, 10:23 PM

Wow, that's quite interesting. It doesn't really shock me when I come to think of it though. I mean, when I make myself smile for whatever reason I do feel a lot happier :/

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Re: Botox "Cure" for Depression? - August 4th 2011, 12:39 PM

That's so clever... And thinking about it, I don't see why it wouldn't work!

It would probably be quite expensive, and obviously it needs further testing (it's possible that because the subjects knew they were seeing if it cured their depression, they could subconsiously be in a better mood.) But I think it could be the start of something good!

I can't wait to study Psychology in just over a year! This sort of thing really interests me
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