The Journal of Psychiatric Research reports that an early study conducted by Germany’s Hannover Medical School found compelling evidence that Botox treatment in the facial muscles responsible for frowning may alleviate the symptoms of clinical depression.
When our facial muscles express emotion, feedback signals are sent to the brain, reinforcing those emotions. Professor Tillman Kruger, study investigator, stated that Botox interrupts this cycle. Investigators stated that a positive effect on mood has been observed in those who have received Botox treatment for the frown lines between the brows (glabellar lines).
Past psychiatric studies found that even forced smiles led to subjective improvement in mood. These latest findings suggest that incapacitation the muscles that are responsible for frowning has a similar effect.
To confirm these findings, Dr. Tillman Kruger and Dr. M. Axel Wollmer of Hamburg Germany’s Asklepios Clinic North Ochsenzoll, conducted a double blind, randomized, placebo controlled clinical trial using Botox injections in conjunction with conventional treatment for depression. Thirty patients with major, treatment resistant, chronic depression received either a single Botox injection or a saline-based placebo. All subjects had responded insufficiently to standard depression treatment.
After six weeks, the group that had received a single Botox injection demonstrated a 47.1 percent average reduction in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale compared to the placebo group, which experienced a 9.2 percent reduction.
The study suggests that a single Botox treatment in the glabellar area may quickly achieve a strong, sustained reduction of depression in those who failed to find sufficient improvement with previous medications.
The study supports the idea that facial muscles not only demonstrates, but also regulates the mood. Dr. Kruger stated that Botox might provide a novel, well-accepted, effective, and economic tool for treating major depression.
Two subsequent studies, one headed by Eric Finzi, MD, PhD, and one led by Michelle Magid, MD, have replicated these findings. Dr. Kruger and his colleagues are analyzing three randomized trials to corroborate the potential for this novel approach to treatment for depression.
Investigators suggested that other potential advantages to Botox treatment for depression include improved patient compliance, few drug interactions, economical compared to psychotropic medications, and well-documented safety. Researchers are currently studying the potential for Botox treatment in other psychiatric disorders.
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