Army veteran Vivian Cooke has long struggled with debilitating depression. She has tried alternative therapies and medication to cope with her symptoms.
"It wasn't effective. Some side effects would be headaches or stomach ache," said Cooke.
Then three years ago, she tried something different. After hearing about a study testing Botox to treat depression.
"We don't believe it has anything to do with looks," said Dr. Eric Finzi, Botox researcher at Chevy Chase Cosmetic Center.
Finzi says facial expressions are part of the circuit of the brain related to mood.
"Fear anger and sadness. All go through this muscle, so Botox basically inhibits the muscle and calms it down. So, it becomes more difficult to feel those negative emotions," said Finzi.
The makers of Botox just announced the final phase of testing for depression will begin. Finzi says previous studies show between 50 to 60 percent of patients benefit from the treatment.
"Our hope is eventually it will form a place as one of the tools to treat depression," said Finzi.
Finzi is also studying whether Botox can treat social anxiety.
Cooke says she noticed a change in her depression almost immediately.
"I found overall my mood was better on a day-to-day basis. I had less problems with depression," said Cooke.
And even though the study Cooke took part in is over, she says she will continue to get the injections.
Botox is temporary and typically wears off after three months. Researchers are also testing Botox to see if it can help patients with bipolar disorder.
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