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Researchers Take To Botox To Treat Depression

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Researchers are now testing Botox injections, typically for cosmetic use, to see if they can treat depression and social anxiety.

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 stomachache," said patient Vivian Cooke.

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 with the Chevy Chase Cosmetic Center.

Finzi said 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.

The makers of Botox announced the final phase of testing for depression will begin. Dr. 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.

The doctor is also studying whether Botox can treat social anxiety.

Vivian 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," she said.

Even though the study Vivian took part in is over, she says she will continue to get the injections.

Botox is temporary and typically wears off after three months.

Researcher are also testing Botox to see if it can help patients with bipolar disorder.

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