A single botox injection has been found to substantially improve depressive symptoms, research finds.
Botox is typically used to decrease the appearance of wrinkles in the face.
But, researchers have found that it can also help to treat the symptoms of depression.
Professor Norman E. Rosenthal, who led the study, said:
“This research is groundbreaking because it offers those who suffer from depression and their doctors an entirely new approach to treating the condition — one that doesn’t conflict with any other treatments.”
For the study, 74 depressed people were given an injection to the facial muscles between the eyebrows — those related to frowning.
Half were injected with botox, the other half with a placebo.
The results showed that depression symptoms reduced by 47% in the group given the botox injection.
The reduction was just 21% in the placebo group.
Dr. Eric Finzi, the study’s first author, said:
“This new research supports earlier facial feedback theory of Charles Darwin and William James which suggests that facial expressions influence mood.”
The facial feedback theory suggests that facial expression feedback into our moods.
In other words: our facial expressions are not just the result of our moods, but they can also influence them.
The botox injection makes it more difficult for people to frown.
So, with less frowning, people feel less depressed — or so the theory goes.
This is linked to a relatively new area of psychology called embodied cognition.
Embodied cognition is the idea that we think with our bodies.
For example, if you walk in a more bouncy, upbeat way, you also begin to feel in a more bouncy upbeat mood.
In fact, this very study has been done.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research (Finzi et al., 2014).