The study involved 33 patients who were diagnosed with major depression who got Botox injections. Of them 17 — or 52 percent — showed a degree of at least half in the severity of their depression symptoms after a six-week period. In a placebo group injected only with saline, only six of the 41 participants improved noticeably.
This amazing and interesting outcome confirms the results of a previous study and expands upon them as well. That study, published in 2012, involved patients with an observable frown and long-term depression even after the usual treatments. Those patients received Botox in the glabellar portion of the face and showed significantly more reduction in their depression rating scale scores than those in a control group receiving a placebo.
Study authors Finzi and Rosenthal said that the recent study boosts the findings of the original study because it involves more patients and involves a greater mix of patients, indicating more clearly than ever that there is a possibility of depression remission when Botox is used to treat frowns from depression.
The two studies add to other evidence that seems to show clearly that facial expressions are involved in mood. Other studies in the past have found that forcing oneself to smile can create an improvement in mood, just as treating the frown apparently can.
The recent study of the impact of eliminating the ability to frown for depression patients included 85 patients total, all with clinical depression as diagnosed in the standard way through clinical interview. Of those 85, eight were dropped for violating protocols, because of withdrawing their consent or because the study authors lost touch with them.
For the remaining patients, injections were place in five facial locations. A total of 29 units were used for the women involved while 40 units were used for the men.
After six weeks, 21 of the 33 studied patients were rated by researchers as much improved regarding their depression while just eight in the placebo group of 41 saw improvement.
Based on photos, the researchers also asked dermatologists to analyze the appearance of frowning on the faces, rating them with a frown score before and after the Botox treatments. In two-thirds of cases, there was correspondence between the absence of a frown and improvement in the depression.
Five of 13 patients whose baseline photos didn’t indicate a frown still got better nonetheless.
About half of patients guessed correctly whether they had improved or not while a third guessed wrongly. The remaining patients in this study wouldn’t make a guess.
The study found that Botox as a treatment for depression has some benefits over other kinds of treatment, including:
– good compliance
– low cost
– few potential drug interactions
– a long history of safety.
It should be noted that 90 percent of patients were women, so reaching a conclusion for men isn’t yet possible. Also, since the study was only for six weeks, long-term impact isn’t know. Plus, the level of depression might have changed anyway in some patients due to other factors.
Still, the evidence is clear and the findings are exciting. For patients with depression, eliminating the frown with Botox could make a big difference. That means it could just be worth giving a try if nothing else seems to work.
Psychiatrists (and health professionals in related fields) interested in learning to use Botox, check out our Botox training program
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