Is paralyzing the muscles involved in frowning truly enough to make depressed patients feel better? The notion that your expression can exert a powerful influence on your mood has us all thinking. After all, we smile because we feel happy, and cry because we feel sad, not the other way around, right? Well, not necessarily. New research suggests that it is possible to treat depression by paralyzing key facial muscles with BOTOX® Cosmetic or Dysport.
In a study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, our physicianEric Finzi, a cosmetic dermatologist, and our physicianNorman Rosenthal, a professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School, randomly assigned a group of 74 patients with major depression to receive either BOTOX® Cosmetic or saline injections in the forehead muscles whose contraction makes it possible to frown. Six weeks after the injection, 52 percent of the subjects who received BOTOX® Cosmetic showed relief from depression, compared with only 15 percent of those who received the saline placebo.
Other studies over the past several years have found similar effects of BOTOX® Cosmetic/ Dysport on individual’s moods. Michael Lewis at Cardiff University reported that non-depressed patients at a cosmetic dermatology clinic receiving BOTOX® Cosmetic injections above the eyes frowned less and felt better than those who did not receive this injection.
The idea that facial expressions may feed information back to our brain and influence our feelings goes back to a theory of emotion first proposed by Charles Darwin. In “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals,” Darwin explained that the control of facial expression causes a like effect on subjective emotions. William James took the idea further and proposed that emotions were the result, not the cause, of various bodily sensations, suggesting that “we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and not that we cry, strike, or tremble, because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be.”
The BOTOX® Cosmetic studies, by contrast, suggest a circuit between the brain and the muscles of facial expression in which the brain
monitors the emotional valence of the face and responds by generating the appropriate feeling. Of course information flows in both directions, as you can think yourself into practically any emotional state and have the facial expression to match it.
Whether Botox will prove to be an effective and useful antidepressant, it is still unclear. To discuss whether or not BOTOX® Cosmetic or Dysport is right for you, please contact us for your consultation with our physican. Don’t worry, be happy with BOTOX® Cosmetic/ Dysport.