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Botox may help fight depression, study finds

Lylah M. Alphonse
Yahoo Lifestyle
4 October 2012
A new study finds that Botox injections may help fight severe depression © Rex
A new study finds that Botox injections may help fight severe depression © Rex

Researchers have found an additional benefit of Botox for some wrinkle-rejecting users: The cosmetic injection may also alleviate symptoms of severe depression.

In the first-ever controlled study, Dr. M. Axel Wollmer and other researchers from the University of Basel in Switzerland found that paralysing the glabellar frown region - that space between your eyebrows where vertical creases develop - reduced symptoms of depression in some severe cases.

[Related article: Mother gives Botox injections to her eight-year-old daughter]

In the study, which was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, Wollmer described finding "positive effects on mood" after subjects had their frown lines treated with five injections of botulinum toxin, also known as cosmetic Botox.

Depressive symptoms in 15 patients who had not responded to traditional antidepressant medications decreased by 47 percent in just six weeks, the study found, and the improvement did not diminish by the end of the 16-week long study. The other 15 patients in the study were the control group; they received shots of saline, and had just a 9 percent reduction in symptoms.

[Related article: Skin cream claims false?]

"It supports the concept that the facial musculature not only expresses, but also regulates, mood states," he wrote. Or, in non-scientific terms: Not being able to frown can actually make you feel happier.

The link between facial expressions and emotions was first mentioned in the 1890s, by psychologist William James, who called it "facial feedback hypothesis." Wollmer's study seems to confirm James' theory: Paralysing the frown muscles "interrupts feedback from the facial musculature to the brain, which may be involved in the development and maintenance of negative emotions," Wollmer wrote.

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