Could Botox jabs could be the latest weapon in treating severe depression – because it stops you LOOKING miserableIn a US trial, the treatment relieved symptoms in more than a quarter of patients – compared to just seven per cent of those given a placeboScientists believe it works because it physically stops people frowning, something which can trigger negative emotions

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UPDATED:

18:18 GMT, 28 December 2012

Scientists believe Botox could help to treat mental illness

Scientists believe Botox could help to treat mental illness

It has long been recognised for its wrinkle-busting properties. Now, scientists believe Botox could also help to treat mental illness.

New research shows that the cosmetic treatment can dramatically improve the symptoms of severe depression in more than a quarter of patients.

Dr Eric Finzi, medical director at the Chevy Chase Cosmetic Centre, in Maryland, has carried out research which suggests that physical expressions of emotion influence our feelings.

For this reason, he believes that smoothing out frown lines using Botox can actually improve the mood of people with clinical depression.

For example, he claims his latest research shows that forcing a frown can cause a depressed mood, while deliberately smiling can temporarily increase happiness.

This is the second of Dr Finzi’s studies which comes to this conclusion.

The first proposed the theory that by preventing frowning, the toxin is interrupting signals to the brain that indicate the body is under stress or cannot cope.

For the newest study, Dr Finzi worked with 84 people with severe depression that lasted for an average of two years and which had not fully responded to treatment with antidepressants.

The patients all received either Botox treatment to smooth out frown lines, or a placebo injection into the same facial region. They were then assessed three and six weeks later.

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The researchers suggests that physical expressions of emotion influence our feelings

Botox is a well-known cosmetic treatment for age-related wrinkles around the eyes and forehead.

However, the powerful toxin also has a wide range of medical applications, and is used to treat stroke victims' muscle spasms, can ease migraine and even helps people with Parkinson's disease control their movements.

It works by 'paralysing' small groups of muscles to prevent them going into spasm or contracting regularly. This stops the surrounding skin from wrinkling.

Scientists have also recently discovered that Botox could help fight cancer by boosting the effects of chemotherapy, speeding up the destruction of tumour cells.

In another experiment, Australian scientists have been trying to establish whether applying Botox gel to the nose could give hay fever sufferers relief from sneezing, itchy eyes and runny noses for up to three months.

It is hoped that the botulinum toxin will affect the nerves in the nose and potentially block some of the chemicals released by the nerve endings which play a large role in causing hay fever symptoms.

To try and treat the allergy, the Botox molecule has been re-engineered to be able to penetrate through the skin but also through the lining of the nose.