Study Shows Botox Can Help Alleviate Depression?

There is an interesting study from the Journal of Psychiatric Research that claims that Botox can help alleviate depression.  Is this true?

From the RealSelf.com blog:

The 16-week study appeared in the Journal of Psychiatric Research earlier this year and reported that the face’s inability to register emotion post-Botox may help those with treatment resistant depression.

Participants in the treatment group were given one dose (five injections) of Botox between and just above the eyebrows, whereas the control group was given placebo injections. Symptoms of depression in the treatment group reportedly decreased 47% after six weeks, and remained at that level through the study period. In comparison, the placebo group had a 9% reduction in symptoms.

M. Axel Wollmer of the University of Basel, who led the study, says that since Botox “interrupts feedback from the facial musculature to the brain, which may be involved in the development and maintenance of negative emotions,” it may be able to regulate depression.

I find this fascinating.  What causes the people who received Botox to feel better?  Is it interruption of neural feedback like the commentor claims?  Or, could it be that preventing a frowning face makes a person feel happier?  It’s documented that smiling a lot can improve a person’s mood.  Could it be due to something like this?

A final possibility: maybe the cosmetic benefits made the person feel better about himself or herself, alleviating some of the depression symptoms.  Although I doubt the latter, it’s interesting to speculate.  Botox is definitely turning out to be a true wonder drug!

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