It’s a proven fact that the mere act of smiling can cheer you up, while frowning makes you feel blue. So it seems counterintuitive that a substance that paralyzes those very facial muscles could help with depression. But three small studies suggest that Botox does just that. The latest study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, showed that 17 of 33 patients experienced better than 50-percent reductions in their depression symptoms after a single injection; 27 percent of the group saw their depression go into remission.
“This study lends further support to the theory that Botox treatments are not simply skin-deep,” says Whitney P. Bowe, MD, of Advanced Dermatology in Briarcliff Manor and New York City. “Softening the frown muscles not only makes someone look less sad or angry, it appears to also combat feelings of depression and improve quality of life. Although I don’t treat major depression with Botox, I can attest to the positive effects Botox injections have on self-esteem and mood based on feedback I’ve received over the years from patients. Interestingly, the psychological effects persist longer than the physical effects on the musculature. Like in the study, my patients report improvements in their mood months after the effects of the injections wear off.”