While Botox is commonly used for cosmetic purposes, doctors say the reasoning behind the treatment for depression may not be what you expect.
“We don’t believe it has anything to do with looks,” says researcher Dr. Eric Finzi of Chevy Chase Cosmetic Center.
Rather, he says it’s because facial expressions are part of the circuit of the brain related to mood.
George Washington University in Washington, DC, is currently recruiting volunteers for a new study testing Botox to help symptoms of social anxiety.
To see if you qualify for the free study, go to GWUanxiety.com
Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is a psychiatric condition affecting 12% of adults, approximately 20 million Americans, according to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) (1) and noted by the National Institutes of Mental Health. SAD typically begins in the teenage years. The anxiety disorder is characterized by a high level of fear in social situations causing emotional distress and isolation, affecting work, community and romantic relationships. The George Washington University is currently recruiting volunteers for a new study testing the ability of botulinum toxin A, commonly known as Botox, to help symptoms of social anxiety. To see if one qualifies for this free study taking place at GWU in Washington, DC, go to www.GWUanxiety.com.
This pioneering research is being led by Eric Finzi, MD, PhD, the first to publish a study using Botox to treat depression (2), and Daniel Lieberman, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences. This study is testing whether Botox injected into the frown muscles (the muscles that pull the eyebrows together to produce a worried look) will help with social anxiety as it does with depression.
“The same part of the brain involved in depression, the amygdala, is also involved in SAD (3,4),” explains Dr. Eric Finzi. “It is my hope this common and debilitating disorder, social anxiety, will be helped by Botox treatment,” he adds.
Dr. Lieberman notes, “Although Botox is used primarily for cosmetic purposes, its effect on anxiety and depression have nothing to do with changes in appearance. It seems that paralyzing the frown muscles actually quiets down a part of the brain that amplifies negative emotions (5).” Social anxiety is a debilitating illness that often goes untreated. It is common for some sufferers to self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs to reduce fears at social events. If undiagnosed or untreated, social anxiety can lead to alcoholism, eating disorders or other kinds of substance abuse.
One of the more effective ways to treat social anxiety is with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, it is time consuming and it can be difficult to find a therapist with the proper training. Physicians often prescribe antidepressants, but more than half fail to respond adequately (6). In addition, antidepressant’s side effects may cause other unwanted health issues for users. Botox has a very favorable side effect profile, and has been in use for more than twenty years.
In 2014, Eric Finzi, MD, PhD and psychiatrist Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School, published the largest randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial on the effect of Botox on depression (7). They found that more than half of subjects suffering from moderate to severe depression showed a substantial improvement (greater than or equal to a 50% reduction in depressive symptoms) as measured by the MADRS, a standard depression scale. The study showed that Botox may help relieve depression both by itself as well when it is added to boost other treatments. There have been two other randomized controlled trials showing the effectiveness of Botox to treat depression, with similar results (8). Clinical trials are currently underway to get FDA approval for this novel treatment.
Persons interested in more information and to see if they qualify as a volunteer for this experimental treatment of social anxiety, can go to www.GWUanxiey.com. For more information about Botox to treat depression, go to www.BotoxForDepression.com.
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1. Kessler, Ronald C., et al. “Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.” Archives of general psychiatry 62.6 (2005): 593-602.
2. Finzi, Eric, and Erika Wasserman. “Treatment of depression with botulinum toxin A: a case series.” Dermatologic Surgery 32.5 (2006): 645-650.
3. Labuschagne, Izelle, et al. “Oxytocin Attenuates Amygdala Reactivity to Fear in Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder.” Neuropsychopharmacology 35 (2010): 2403- 2413.
4. Victor, Teresa A., et al. “Relationship between amygdala responses to masked faces and mood state and treatment in major depressive disorder.” Archives of general psychiatry 67.11 (2010): 1128-1138.
5. Kim, M. Justin, et al. “Botulinum toxin-induced facial muscle paralysis affects amygdala responses to the perception of emotional expressions: preliminary findings from an ABA design.” (2014).
6. Trivedi, Madhukar H., et al. “Evaluation of outcomes with citalopram for depression using measurement-based care in STAR* D: implications for clinical practice.” American journal of Psychiatry 163.1 (2006): 28-40.
7. Finzi, Eric, and Norman E. Rosenthal. “Treatment of depression with onabotulinumtoxinA: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial.” Journal of psychiatric research 52 (2014): 1-6.
8. Magid, M., et al. “Treating depression with botulinum toxin: a pooled analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Pharmacopsychiatry 25.06 (2015): 205-210.
Botox May Have a New Use: Treating Depression
A recent study looked at treating depression with Botox. Read More
One doctor is using Botox to treat depression
Botox is commonly used to hide the signs of aging, but Dr. Eric Finzi, a dermatological surgeon is using it to treat his patients with depression. Read More
Botox, Cough Syrup, And An Anesthetic Are All Being Tested As Antidepressants
Pharma companies are looking at old drugs — including a common cough suppressant, an opiate addiction treatment, and even Botox — for new ways to treat depression.
Despite the dozens of prescription drugs on the market for treating depression, up to half of depressed people can’t find relief.
That’s an enormous market opportunity: millions of people who need daily treatment for a chronic condition. But after years of expensive failures trying to develop new antidepressants from scratch, many companies have largely lost interest. Read More
Dr. Eric Finzi and Dr. Norman Rosenthal’s research study findings featured in The Science of Smiling by Andrew Merle for Huffington Post Healthy Living
When we are happy, our natural response is to smile. But if you flip that around, does the reverse hold true? When we smile, is our natural response then to be happy?
Science says yes.
In fact, even faking or forcing a smile reduces stress and makes you happier….
…Another study looked at the effect of facial expression on depression. The experimenters, Eric Finzi (cosmetic dermatologist) and Norman Rosenthal (professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School) worked with 74 subjects who all had major depression, and either gave them a Botox injection between the eyebrows that prevented frowning, or a placebo saline injection that did not affect the facial muscles.
The findings showed that, six weeks after the injection, 52 percent of the non-frowning Botox group showed a reduction in their depression, compared to only a 15 percent improvement rate for the placebo group. The results indicate that putting on a happy face actually makes you happier.
It seems that the simple act of a physical smile, authentic or not, tricks your brain into thinking you’re actually happy. Smiling also triggers us to think back to joyful memories, further improving mood.
In addition to lifting mood and reducing stress, other research has shown that people who smile are thought to be more friendly and likeable, and smiling actually makes those around you cheerier as well.
All of this shows that the old sayings actually deliver great advice — it’s time to turn that frown upside down, grin and bear it, and say cheese!
For more insight in to the study findings READ Dr. Eric Finzi’s Book, Face of Emotion: How Botox Affects Our Mood and Relationships
Treating Depression with Botulinum Toxin: A Pooled Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
Introduction: Botulinum toxin A (BTA) injection into the glabellar region is currently being studied as a treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD). Here we explore efficacy data of this novel approach in a pooled analysis.
Methods: A literature search revealed 3 RCTs on this topic. Individual patient data and clinical end points shared by these 3 trials were pooled and analyzed as one study (n=134) using multiple regression models with random effects.
Results: In the pooled sample, the BTA (n=59) and the placebo group (n=75) did not differ in the baseline variables. Efficacy outcomes revealed BTA superiority over placebo: Improvement in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale or Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale 6 weeks after baseline was 45.7% for BTA vs. 14.6% for placebo (p<0.0001), corresponding to a BTA response rate of 54.2% (vs. 10.7%) and a BTA remission rate of 30.5% (vs. 6.7%).
Discussion: Equalling the status of a meta-analysis, this study increases evidence that a single treatment of BTA into the glabellar region can reduce symptoms of MDD. Further studies are needed to better understand how BTA exerts its mood-lifting effect. Read More…
Forbes.com’s Matthew Herper, a reporter on the Pharma and Healthcare beat, covered the recent annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Toronto and wrote about the collective data findings on Botox to treat depression. Herper writes, “the analysis of the data published so far presented here at the American Psychiatric Association in Toronto seem to support the idea that Botox injections in the face can ease depressed mood.” Read more.
Dr. Eric Finzi will be a guest on NPR Boston’s The Colin McEnroe Radio Show today at approximately 1:06PM EST talking about the Botox for Depression research study findings published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research (May 2014). The study “Treatment of Depression with onabotulinumtoxinA: A Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Trial” found that 52% of subjects suffering from moderate to severe depression showed a relief from depression after injection of botulinum toxin to the glabellar area between the eyes, compared with only 15% of those who received the saline placebo. A second phase to this study is in the works.
This year marks commemorates the 25th anniversary of the first approved uses of BOTOX® and to honor its heritage as a medical advancement. You can listen to the program LIVE at http://wnpr.org/programs/colin-mcenroe-show and click on “stream us live” link.
The following information is published on Allergan, the makers of Botox’s website:
While BOTOX® Cosmetic (onabotulinumtoxinA) has become a household name, BOTOX® was the first botulinum toxin type A treatment to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an orphan drug for two rare, eye muscle disorders. This journey, which started in 1989, began with the approval of BOTOX® to treat strabismus (a misalignment of the eyes, commonly known as crossed eyes) and blepharospasm (uncontrolled blinking of the eyelid). Strabismus affects nearly four in every 100 adults,1 and blepharospasm affects an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 people in the United States, with 2,000 new cases diagnosed annually.2 Since that time, BOTOX® therapeutic has been approved for other significant medical conditions including Cervical Dystonia, Severe Underarm Sweating when topical agents don’t work sufficiently, Upper Limb Spasticity, Chronic Migraine, Overactive Bladder when an anticholinergic doesn’t work or the side effects are intolerable, and urinary incontinence due to overactive bladder caused by a neurologic condition when an anticholinergic doesn’t work or the side effects are intolerable.
“BOTOX® is an innovative product whose potential to treat medical conditions across a variety of therapeutic categories continues to expand even today,” said David E.I. Pyott, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Allergan. “The more we research the medical value of this treatment, the more we learn about this biologic and the areas of clinical unmet need where it may provide some benefit. Since BOTOX® was first approved 25 years ago, the list of indications it treats has grown exponentially – not just in the United States, but globally. Today, physicians in 88 countries treat 27 different conditions with BOTOX® and the possibilities continue to grow with Allergan’s research.”3
The video, which outlines the 25-year history of development for BOTOX® therapeutic, features first-hand accounts from patients who chronicle their journey from diagnosis to treatment, as well as physicians who share their personal experiences in advancing the development of this brand, showcasing its therapeutic roots.
For each person that views the video, Allergan will support four patient advocacy organizations that are partnering with the company to help raise awareness, educate and support people living with any of the medical conditions currently being treated with BOTOX®. Support will be given to:
- Benign Essential Blepharospasm Research Foundation (BEBRF)
- Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF)
- National Headache Foundation (NHF)
- National Association for Continence (NAFC)
“The history of BOTOX® therapeutic is really a remarkable story of how a substance from nature has been successfully harnessed for medical benefit,” said Scott Whitcup, M.D., Allergan’s Executive Vice President, Research and Development and Chief Scientific Officer, “It’s also a human interest story that starts with the scientists and the physicians who observed the impact of BOTOX® in treating certain medical conditions, tracked that impact and did something about it. Without this pioneering spirit, we would not have been able to pursue the clinical development and FDA approval of many of the therapeutic indications we now have for BOTOX®.”
To learn more about BOTOX® and to view the 25th anniversary video please visitwww.BOTOX.com.
About BOTOX®(onabotulinumtoxinA)BOTOX® is a prescription-only medical product that contains tiny amounts of a highly purified botulinum toxin protein refined from the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. When injected at doses approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into a specific muscle or gland, BOTOX® neurotoxin is expected to produce a safe, as well as effective result, usually lasting up to approximately three to ten months, depending on the approved indication and on the individual patient.
BOTOX®was first approved in 1989 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of two eye muscle disorders, making it the first botulinum toxin type A product to be approved in the world. Since then, BOTOX®has been recognized by regulatory authorities as an effective treatment for 27 different indications in approximately 88 countries, benefiting patients worldwide.
Today, BOTOX®neurotoxin is approved to treat a total of eight medical conditions in the United States, including:
- the treatment of overactive bladder symptoms such as a strong need to urinate with leaking or wetting accidents (urge urinary incontinence), a strong need to urinate right away (urgency), and urinating often (frequency) in adults 18 years and older when another type of medicine (anticholinergic) does not work well enough or cannot be taken;
- the treatment of leakage of urine (incontinence) in adults 18 years and older with overactive bladder due to neurologic disease who still have leakage or cannot tolerate the side effects after trying an anticholinergic medication;
- the prevention of headaches in adults with chronic migraine who have 15 or more days each month with headache lasting four or more hours each day in people 18 years or older;
- the treatment of increased muscle stiffness in elbow, wrist, and finger muscles in people 18 years and older with upper limb spasticity;
- the treatment of the abnormal head position and neck pain that happens with cervical dystonia (CD) in people 16 years and older;
- the treatment of certain types of eye muscle problems (strabismus) in people 12 years and older;
- the treatment of abnormal spasm of the eyelids (blepharospasm) in people 12 years and older; and
- the treatment of symptoms of severe underarm sweating (severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis) when medicines used on the skin (topical) do not work well enough in people 18 years and older.