Botox to Treat Depression

By Brian Kobienia, MD, FACS on April 15, 2014


Botox to Treat Depression?


Do you think the way you looks effects how you feel?  Do you think you look better in certain outfits?  Do you think your mood effects your confidence?  


Botox has been used for many years to treat a variety of medical conditions including eye muscle spasms, excessive sweating, esophageal spasms, as well as for its cosmetic wrinkle reduction uses.  How about to treat depression?


Recently, the use of Botox has been studied to assess its effect on depression.  In the first randomized, controlled study researchers investigated the effect of Botox on patients with major depressive disorder who had not responded to antidepressant medications.  The participants were divided into two groups.  The control group was given a ‘dose’ of placebo medication via five small injections into the forehead between the eyebrows (the only area it is FDA approved for use in the USA) whereas the study group was injected the the actual Botox.   




Depressive symptoms were first assessed at six weeks.  The treatment group had a reduction of 47%.  These improvements persisted the full 16 weeks of the study.  The control group had a 9% reduction in symptoms.  This study is published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.


Researchers speculate that Botox may disrupt the feedback from the facial musculature to the brain, which may be involved in development and maintenance of negative emotions.   These are clearly a recurring symptom in depression.  Previous studies have shown that Botox impairs peoples abilities to identify other people feelings.  Clearly facial muscle activity is important for identifying and experiencing emotions as well as showing them.


This is very interesting in that it may open up the market for other uses of Botox.  What is next? Insomnia? Halitosis? Foot Fungus?  Menopause symptoms?  Hey, I might just design a study of my own.  I wonder if Botox could prevent my teenage daughter from becoming a monster?  Hey Honey, come here for a minute would you?

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