I’ve always been kind of wary of Botox, but maybe I shouldn’t be. There’s new evidence that says the wrinkle-filler may be effective at treating depression and mental illness as well as the signs of aging.
The connection lies within the physical expression of emotions. According to TIME, even Charles Darwin:
referred to the frown muscles as the “grief muscles” and connected frowns to feelings of sadness.
So, the idea behind Botox as a treatment for depression seems to be that if you prevent frowning and other facial expressions related to feeling sad, you might actually be able to prevent the sadness. TIME reported:
The 84 study participants had severe depression that lasted on average for two years and had failed to completely respond to antidepressants. The patients were randomized to receive either Botox treatment for smoothing out frown lines or a placebo injection into the same facial region and were assessed three and six weeks later. By the end of the study, about 27% of those receiving Botox reported nearly complete remission of their depression, compared with just 7% of those who received the placebo.
Fascinating. Although doctors aren’t completely sure if the Botox is having a more biological affect (ie on the immune system, which is affected when someone experiences depression) or whether it is more connected to psychology. They seem to think, though, that the people who received Botox treatment were able to see themselves as happier and that’s why their symptoms reduced.
“We feel sorry because we cry; we feel angry because we strike [out], and not vice versa,” said Dr. Eric Finzi, medical director of the Chevy Chase Cosmetic Center in Maryland when he presented the information from the latest study on Botox and depression at American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
It’s so interesting to me to think of our self-image as being that concretely connected to mental health. I mean obviously you’re happier when you feel good about yourself and your life, but who knew a little shot of Botox could make you actually see yourself as happier and thus, feel happier?
More research needs to be completed before you can ask your doctor for some Botox to combat the winter blues, but this is certainly an intriguing development for mental health treatment options.