We begin this week’s topic of Botox and Depression with one of our factitious, but typical,  mini-case studies:

A  Short, Sweet Scenario:  Introducing Mini-Case Study, “Lisa”

Several times a year, lifelong friends Cathy and Lisa often meet for lunch. Over the years, Cathy has given Lisa understanding and patience regarding her struggles with depression. She has watched Lisa struggle with the endless varieties of pills and kept up with her reports on her sessions with her psychiatrist.

Over the last year, Cathy has noticed more cheerful, well grounded qualities in her friend. Lisa seems more focused, and less compressed by the burdens of her busy life as a homemaker and an accounting firm executive.

As they chat about topics that range from international news to the intricacies of raising children, Cathy can no longer resist commenting on how well her friend is doing, and looking.

Lisa immediately knows exactly what Cathy has noticed. She confides to Cathy that she is taking “happy shots!” And, what are they? They are not some new designer mixture of miracle herbs and vitamins; they are beautiful, bountiful Botox!

Normally, these are the same injections taken to erase years and wrinkles from the human face. Technically termed onabotulinumtoxin A or OBA, the shots are part of Lisa’s treatment regime for depression, now. Lisa loves the new-found feelings of normalcy and equilibrium that Botox has brought to her life.

Botox For Depression:  Influencing Emotions

We reported previously on treating depression with Botox injections, when this approach was brand new. Today, it has become standard enough that you might have already seen television commercials about this use of OBA. Those television announcements are the reason that this blog has re-visiting the relationship between depression and Botox .

You can read the story of pioneer studies of the use of Botox to treat depression, by clicking our previous article.

Cases such as Lisa’s have come to the forefront now, and the injection of botox for depression is not as rare as it was a year ago.

At Orlando Cosmetic Surgery, we don’t market these as “happy shots,” but we think it is amazing and wonderful that OBA can bring life-changing results to those who suffer from depression.

Dr. Eric Finzi, who engineered the first studies on this subject, has written a provocative book, The Face Of Emotion. In the book, he illustrates how his definitive clinical trials led to the epiphany that Botox can have a therapeutic effect on depression.

On the surface, the psychology behind the Botox for depression sounds remarkably simple. “Dr. Finzi argues that Botox helps control the flow of negative emotions by inhibiting frowning, and how this feeds back to our brain to make us happier.”

What Happened In the Research?  Botox and Depression

In the classic study by Dr. Finzi, the depression symptoms decreased 47  percent after six weeks, after the forehead injections were given to a double blind test group of 74 depressed patients.

In a more recent study, a single injection of the same OBA (Botox,) which is typically used to improve the appearance of facial wrinkles, was investigated by the Hannover Medical School in Germany.

At a June 2014 press conference, Prof. Tillmann Kruger stated “Our emotions are expressed by facial muscles, which in turn send feedback signals to the brain to reinforce those emotions. Treating facial muscles with botulinum toxin interrupts this cycle,”

Looking Good and Feeling Better!

The investigators discovered positive effects on mood “in patients who’ve had Botox treatment for the frown lines in the area above the nose and between the eyebrows.”

Likewise Professor Kruger and colleague M. Axel Wollmer, MD, from the Asklepios Clinic North Ochsenzoll in Hamburg, Germany, did research on Botox  injection as an additional treatment for major depression.”

This type of depression, also known as clinical depression, is defined by WebMD as “a constant sense of hopelessness and despair.” They add, “With major depression, it may be difficult to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy friends and activities.”.

Professor Kruger and Dr.Wollmer treated 30 patients with high levels of “chronic and treatment-resistant” depression received either a single injection of Botox or a saline placebo. Six weeks later, the Botox group had 47.1% reduction in the symptoms of their chronic depression. Only 9.2 % of the cases in the placebo group showed improvement.

Kruger stated that Botox is becoming a “novel, effective, well-accepted, and economic, therapeutic tool for the treatment of major depression.”

Writer Debra Pittman, puts it simply, “Smiling alone is not enough to cure depression because everyone would be doing it; it is the inability to frown that is important. The outside-in approach is not new to medical treatment of internal emotions.”

It is no wonder that researchers are now interested in running studies to discover if Botox can assist in other psychiatric disorders or conditions.

If you or some one you love suffers from mild or chronic depression, Orlando Cosmetic Surgery recommends talking with health care providers about the powerful help of Botox. It’s more than a wrinkle remover!