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Melancholy that has not responded to other tactics.

A study printed in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that six weeks after one Botox treatment, people who have depression saw a 47 percent decrease in their symptoms as measured by a depression index. “The treatment is more or less indistinguishable to the cosmetic treatment of frown lines,” points out research worker Alex Wollmer, a co author of the study and faculty member in the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel in Basel, Switzerland.

His co-workers and Wollmer compared the melancholy symptoms of 30 people, with half given Botox injections and half not. Lasting development was reported by those on a survey of melancholy symptoms evaluated before and after the treatments.

Dermatologist Eric Finzi, MD, medical director of the Chevy Chase Cosmetic Center in Chevy Chase, Md., and author of the book “The Face of Emotion: How Botox Changes Our Dispositions and Relationships,” has also researched these effects, coauthoring a randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study of Botox for depression.

“Our study of 74 patients who completed the trial demonstrated a significant development in the Botox group and found that 27 percent of Botox patients went into remission, as compared to 7 percent of the placebo group,” Dr. Finzi says. He presented the results in December 2012, at a meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Though just how Botox works still is not completely comprehended, it could be that there is some truth to the old adage, “Turn that frown upside down.”

“I propose it works by an activity that I call mental proprioception,” says Finzi. “Every time which you frown, the muscles between your eyebrows contract and send negative psychological signals back to your own brain.” The brain computes that the frown means you’re disquieted. “Our brain uses our body — in this instance our facial muscles — as a yardstick, a reference, for our emotional states,” he says, adding that because Botox shots allow it to be impossible to use those muscles for frowning, “the deficiency of the negativity then creates an extremely important positive impact on our brain’s appraisal of our mental state.”

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The effects of Botox last for a few months, so repeated treatments may be needed by individuals with severe depression. Though the shots receive in the same manner they are for decorative enhancement, “for those people who are depressed, the treatment is administered exclusively as a depression-fighting treatment, not for wrinkles,” Finzi emphasizes.

Botox as a depression treatment is currently being evaluated in clinical trials, which requires a run of prescribed steps required to get a drug to obtain U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for a particular use. Usage of Botox shots for depression, which could run several hundred dollars, isn’t covered by medical insurance, until that approval comes. However, if the results continue to show promise, it might be just a matter of time before that changes.

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