Botox As a Cure for Depression? More Than a Myth
One of the joys of my practice is observing the mood of my patients instantly change for the better after Botox and/or other injectables. Of course, we attributed that lightening of the mood and happier demeanor to feeling better because we look better. But, recent studies have shown that there is more than meets the eye in the Botox/mood connection. In fact, recent scientific studies have shown that Botox actually can be a mood elevator.
Depression affects over 120 million people globally, making it one of the leading causes of disability in the world. Negative emotions are displayed through anger, fear and sadness, all of which can be physically seen in the furrows between the eyebrows. Scientists have been publishing data showing that if you are able to change the negative physical expressions, you actually can increase emotional wellbeing and reduced levels of fear and sadness beyond what would be expected from the cosmetic benefit alone.
The bottom line is that it has been demonstrated that when patients were treated with Botox and were, therefore, inhibited from expressing emotion associated with sadness, fear and anger, they started to feel less depressed. The Psychiatric University Hospital of the University of Basel, Switzerland and the Medical School in Hannover, Germany, conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. Participants in the study were recruited from local psychiatric outpatient units and psychiatrists in private practice. In order to avoid attracting candidates who were primarily motivated by receiving this treatment for cosmetic reasons, Botox was not explicitly mentioned. The study concluded for the first time that a single botulinum treatment of the region between the eyes and above the nose could reduce the symptoms of major depression.
The Washington Post also has reported on this phenomenon based on studies undertaken by doctors in Maryland.
So, we have to ask ourselves: does the frown cause depression or does depression cause the frown? We don’t have a clear answer yet, but scientific studies and empirical evidence alike suggest that facial expression does affect our mood.
Apparently song-writers knew this long before scientists. In the words of Dick Van Dyke in Pajama Game, “Put on a Happy Face.” Others will love seeing you smile, won’t think you’re angry when you’re not, and you’ll be helping yourself as well…life is better when you are putting out positive energy. And, it is very attractive!
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