Fake It ‘Til You Make It?

October 24th, 2012 by Andrea Bennett

Research indicates that Botox may help combat depression.

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The Responsibility Project

Greetings from what my sister likes to call “the Botox Corridor.” When I moved to Las Vegas, plenty of friends feared I’d fall victim to the endless of array of inexpensive injectables and muscle paralyzers available in doctors’ offices, med-spas, and even now my dentist’s office. Little did they realize that there might be an interesting – and unexpected – side effect to such cosmetic injections. Think of it as the “fake it ‘til you make it” theory of treating depression.

According to an article in Scientific American, a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research examined whether Botox might aid patients with major depressive disorders who hadn’t responded to antidepressants. Researchers chose 30 participants suffering from major depression, giving half of them five injections of Botox between and just above the eyebrows, while the other half were given placebo injections. After six weeks, health care professionals tracked symptoms like sullen mood, insomnia and weight loss, and reported that patients who received the placebo had a 9 percent reduction in depressive symptoms, while the Botoxed patients had a 47 percent decrease in symptoms.

M. Axel Wollmer, a psychiatrist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, has an explanation for the surprising results. He believes the treatment “interrupts feedback from the facial musculature to the brain, which may be involved in the development and maintenance of negative emotions.” In most basic terms, if you can’t maintain a frown, you might not feel so sad. A Jezebel piece on the story notes that earlier studies have also linked Botox with treating depression because it forces patients to internalize their negative feelings.

What do you think? Is the “fake it” idea false, or do you buy it? Weigh in.