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Can Botox® Really Treat Depression?

Can Botox® Really Treat Depression?

For the 21 million adults in the United States who suffer from major depressive disorder, life can seem hopeless much of the time. In reality, there is cause for hope as treatments for depression are expanding, giving you more options than ever before. Included in this expanding area are cosmetic Botox® injections, which give new meaning to the expression about turning a frown upside down.

Dr. Diana Ghelber and the experienced mental health team here at the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry want our patients to have access to every mental health tool available. 

When it comes to depression, the go-to treatment, antidepressants, is being joined by newer treatments, including ketamine infusions, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and Botox injections.

In this month’s blog post, we’re going to focus on why Botox may be a valuable tool in the depression treatment arsenal.

It’s about expression

Botox is a botulinum toxin that is approved by the FDA to temporarily improve severe frown lines, crow’s-feet, and forehead lines in adults. Since its introduction two decades ago, Botox has been the number one cosmetic injectable for fighting back against the signs of aging.

For our purposes, we’re going to take a closer look at how Botox works on frown lines, which are vertical wrinkles between your eyebrows. Also called glabellar lines, when these lines appear between your eyes, it’s typically to display a negative emotion, such as anger, frustration, or worry. Whatever the emotion, it’s far from one that’s relaxed.

When Botox clears away your ability to make these lines, it forces your face into a more relaxed state, eliminating the negative facial feedback that’s sent to your brain when you frown.

This theory that facial feedback affects the mental and emotional state of your brain isn’t new. If you’ve ever tried yoga or meditation, one of the instructions you typically receive is to relax your forehead as this is where humans tend to carry a lot of stress. 

Botox and depression by the numbers

There have been several studies since the mid 2000s that have tested the theory that Botox can improve the symptoms of depression, and the results are impressive.

For example, in one study of 28 patients with major depressive disorder, half were given Botox and the other half a placebo. The group that received Botox had a statistically significant higher improvement in their depressive symptoms at the six-week mark.

In a meta-analysis of clinical studies, researchers concluded that Botox is a good option for treating depression, especially for those who don’t respond to antidepressants. They also surmised that Botox works by targeting “feedback from the face that may have an upholding and reinforcing effect on depressed mood.”


If you want to explore for yourself whether Botox might play a role in treating your depression, please contact us at the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry in Granbury or Fort Worth, Texas, to set up an appointment.

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