Health MATTERS: A SHOT at Happiness

Botox for Depression – has it been in our face all this time?

Photo: Ben Hassett
Photo: Ben Hassett

A swipe of lipstick can put a smile on your face, but when it comes to beating true depression, beauty products usually don’t do the trick.  Well maybe very temporarily.

Enter Botox, the forehead-smoothing toxin that can erase fine lines, stop sweating, and even squelch migraines – a true multi-tasker.  It turns out that a vial may have the power to make you happier – and not just because your wrinkles have disappeared.

In a recent study associated with Georgetown University that involved using Botox for depression, one participant who ended up getting botox (not the placebo), described feeling something she could describe only with a word that might seem impossible to anyone living under a cloak of despair: “lighthearted.”

Of the 74 people in the study – half were given Botox and the other half were given saline placebo injections in the “frown” muscles between their eyebrows.  Six weeks later, 52 percent of patients who’d been injected with Botox felt significantly better, compared with just 15 percent who didn’t get the real stuff.

The notion that a grin or a grimace can actually influence your emotions is nothing new, says Maryland dermatologic surgeon Eric Finzi, a co-author of the Georgetown study and author of the 2013 book: The Face of Emotion: How Botox Affects Our Mood and Relationships.

Charles Darwin theorized that our facial expressions don’t just telegraph happy or sad to the world but that they can also create and enhance those emotions.

People suffering from serious depression shouldn’t toss their meds and abandon therapy just yet, says New York psychiatrist and dermatologist Amy Wechsler.  “Depression has always been something that’s best treated by a range of things, and I think this may well be a powerful tool in our arsenal,” says Wechsler.

For the millions who suffer from depression, this could be the biggest thing since Prozac, not to mention a lifesaver, says Finzi.

To that end, Botox’s parent company, Allergen, is currently in Phase II clinical trials for its use in treating major depressive disorder in women.  Botox is predicted to become standard treatment for depression in the future.

In short, if you can’t frown, you can’t feel down.

Have any of you tried Botox?  I have yet to try it not done so and am trying hard to avoid it by trying to keep healthy and happy.

Source: Liz Krieger for Bazaar Magazine