New Study Finds Botox Effective Treatment for Depression

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The results concluded 9 out of 10 clinically depressed patients who were treated with Botulinum toxin A, commonly known as Botox, for glabellar frown lines (between the eyes) were no longer clinically depressed 2 months after treatment.

Dermatologist Eric Finzi, MD, PhD, and psychologist Erika Wasserman, PhD, conducted a study that found Botulinum Toxin A, commonly known as Botox, to be an effective new treatment for clinical depression. The results concluded nine out of ten clinically depressed patients who were treated with Botox Cosmetic for glabellar frown lines (between the eyes) were no longer clinically depressed two months after treatment. The study is published in the May 15, 2006, journal edition of Dermatologic Surgery by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), an estimated 10 to 25% of women and 5 to 10% of men will develop a major depressive disorder at some time in their lives. External symptoms often include facial muscles that create a distressed or sad appearance: furrowed brows, raised eyebrows, or anxious expressions.

Dr. Finzi initiated an open pilot trial to determine whether inhibiting facial frowning by injecting the wrinkle treatment Botox could improve depressive symptoms. Finzi created the trial after learning that patients with paralyzed facial muscles often had difficulty feeling sadness. He also noted that significant depression diagnoses showed up in patients with very strong frown lines. Interestingly, early scientist Charles Darwin suggested that facial muscle and skin movement may contribute to our moods and emotions. “Having treated hundreds of people with Botox Cosmetic to correct deep furrow lines in the brow, I knew that the muscle could be relaxed and thought it therefore possible to alleviate depressive disorders,” said Dr. Eric Finzi.

Dr. Erika Wasserman evaluated ten clinically depressed patients between the ages of 36 and 63 who met the study protocol which required moderate to severe depressive symptomatology (according to the guidelines of the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and the Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II) quantitative test). The pilot study accepted only patients who had never previously received any Botox or Botulinum Toxin A treatments. Dr. Wasserman re-evaluated the patients two months after they received Botox treatments and administered a repeat test for depression. At that time, Dr. Finzi also confirmed the absence of glabellar frown muscle activity.

The study found that nine out of the ten patients treated with Botox were no longer depressed two months after treatment, and the tenth patient reported an improvement in mood. “These findings are very promising, and it is my and Dr. Finzi’s hope that a larger scale study will be conducted,” said Dr. Wasserman. Dr. Finzi added, “This treatment is a safe and potentially effective way to help millions of clinically depressed people who are not responding well to drugs and psychotherapy treatments.”

Botox Cosmetic manufacturer, Allergan, did not fund or participate in this study.

Media Contact: Michelle Delino 202-486-7622


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