Could Botox Treat Depression?

Research Findings of the Largest Clinical Trial to Date

Journal of Psychiatric Research To Publish Study in May 2014

Treatment of Depression with OnabotulinumtoxinA: A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial

Authors: Eric Finzi, MD, PhD and Norman E. Rosenthal, MD

Published in Journal of Psychiatric Research, Volume 52 (May 2014)

Could Depression be Treated with Botox?

New study reports that patients injected with onabotulinumtoxinA demonstrated substantial improvement - over 50% - in their depressive symptoms.

In the largest randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study to date on the affect of OnabotulinumtoxinA (known as Botox) on depression, researchers found that more than half of subjects suffering from moderate to severe depression showed a substantial improvement (greater than or equal to 50% of baseline) in their depressive symptoms as measured by the MADRS scale.

The study, conducted by Dr. Eric Finzi, MD, PhD and Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, MD and published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, included 74 depressed subjects injected with a single treatment of either onabotulinumtoxinA (OBA) or a placebo to the corrugator and procerus muscles between the eyebrows. Results showed that depressive symptoms (as assessed by the MADRS scale) in the OBA treatment group decreased 47 percent after six weeks, compared to 21 percent in the placebo group. This study is the first to show a significant difference in remission rate with OBA in depressed patients (27% OBA vs. 7% placebo).

Study co-author Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School, commented, “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.”

The study showed that Botox may help relieve depressive symptoms both as a stand-alone and an adjunctive treatment.

“This new research supports earlier facial feedback theory of Charles Darwin and William James which suggests that facial expressions influence mood,” added Dr. Eric Finzi, Dermasurgeon and co-author on the paper that first reported that inhibition of frowning by facial injection of OBA could help depressed patients in a pilot study published in 2006.

About Eric Finzi, MD, PhD

Eric Finzi is a dermatolgic surgeon, author and artist. A former Dermatology faculty member at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, he has been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show NY, and A&E, and has contributed to articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New Scientist, among others.

About Norman E. Rosenthal, MD

Norman E. Rosenthal is the world-renowned psychiatrist, researcher and New York Times best-selling author of nine books, who first described seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and pioneered the use of light therapy as a treatment during his twenty years at the National Institute of Mental Health. He has written or co-authored over 200 scholarly articles.

Face of Emotion

Dr. Eric Finzi's book, The Face of Emotion: How Botox Affects Our Mood and Relationships, (published by Palgrave MacMillan, January, 2013) explains his groundbreaking research and study findings in narrative form, weaving personal stories and rich historical accounts to showcase how his theory came to light. Finzi's thinking, which dates back to Charles Darwin and William James's facial feedback theory, marshals together evidence from psychology, neuroscience, art, evolutionary biology, family and patients, to prove his idea that facial expressions are a central driving force of our emotions, and that there is an unlikely ally available in taming them: Botox.

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To Interview the Study Authors Contact:

Michelle Delino Media

Face of Emotion Book Publicist Contact:

Allison Frascatore
Palgrave Macmillan

Study Publisher, Elsevier Media contact:

Lisa Colson

+31 20 485 3877

Notes for editors

This article “Treatment of depression with onabotulinumtoxinA: A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial” by Eric Finzi and Norman E. Rosenthal, is published in Journal of Psychiatric Research, Volume 52 (May 2014). DOI: published by Elsevier.

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