Is Botox the Key to Curing Depression?
Dr. Eric Finzi, a board certified dermasurgeon, began studying the effects of Botox injections on women with major depressive disorder in 2006. He injected Botox into the frowning muscles (located between the eyebrows) of 10 women (9 with depression, 1 with bipolar disorder.) After two months, Dr. Finzi found that all 9 of the depressed women were no longer showing signs of it, and even the woman with bipolar disorder experienced an improvement in her mood.
Although Botox is commonly used for cosmetics, the changes in the subjects’ moods were not due to feeling better about their appearance. When a person is angry or upset, the frowning muscle tenses up. But, according to Dr. Finzi, “if you inhibit the ability of this muscle to contract, you’re actually going to feel less sadness and anger. You’re actually going to have more difficulty feeling the emotion because feelings are not just something that’s happening in the brain.”
We have previously blogged about the relationship between our actions and our emotions, quoting psychologist/philosopher William James, who was one of the first theorists to notice that “without some kind of bodily response, we would not feel emotion.”
Dr. Finzi believes that this statement applies when explaining the success of the Botox injections in treating depression.
According to a Newsweek article regarding the study, “To a surprising degree, the facial muscles control emotions, as well as the other way around. Patients with Mobius syndrome, a partial facial paralysis, seem not to experience emotions with the same intensity as normal people. ‘I thought if I could interrupt this cycle and prevent the frown, maybe a depressed patient would get better,’ says Finzi.”
Do you think that ‘preventing the frown’ would be an effective treatment for depression?
The belief that one’s emotions can be changed simply by changing the expression on their face has been around for ages, as evidenced in the famous song lyrics, “smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking, when there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by if you smile through your fear and sorrow.”
Finzi suggests that the idea was initially suggested by Charles Darwin, who believed that a person’s mood can change according to their facial expressions. This idea was further supported by various researchers, including Dr. Paul Ekman. In addition, studies conducted by Humintell’s own Dr. Matsumoto was featured in Time Magazine which supported the claim that facial expressions of emotion do affect people’s moods.
According to WBBH, Dr. Finzi is currently running a similar experiment on a group of 60 subjects along with psychiatrist Dr. Norman Rosenthal, director of Capital Clinical Research Associates.
Do you think Dr. Finzi will have the same results this time around?
If they do wind up being similar, will you be convinced that Botox really is the new cure for depression?