Depressed? Maybe Your Psychiatrist Will Prescribe Botox.

Botox makes you happy. So does a new Lexus, but I can’t prescribe that.

Botox® temporarily freezes dynamic lines such as crow’s feet and forehead wrinkles. When Botox is done well, it can raise your eyebrows and make your face appear well rested, younger, happier. Botox also makes it difficult to furrow your brow or frown.

Too much Botox freezes your face, making it expressionless (which could be seen in both winners and losers at the recent Golden Globes: Were they happy? Sad? Shocked? Who could tell?).

Because Botox can make people look better, it’s no surprise that people who get Botox are happier afterwards. A review in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology actually looked at the cost of treating depressed patients with Botox. Here’s the reasoning: If you cannot frown because of Botox, then your mind will interpert this as you feel less angry or sad. Preliminary studies showed that people treated with Botox had more positive emotions and felt less depressed after their treatment.

While the logic is easily followed (and is emphatically supported by people who ordinarily pay cash for their Botox), the science is absent. There are no studies that show Botox improves depression as compared to placebo, therapy, or antidepressants. Much more research would have to be done to show that there is a real benefit (it would be  interesting to compare Botox to simply giving people $500 in cash and teaching them to frown less).

Depression is a disease and is never fixed quickly. Treating depression always requires effort, often requires therapy, and sometimes requires medication. I doubt that medication will be Botox. Or a new Lexus.

Photo: Geekadman Flickr.com