Read Original Story

Can You Really Botox the Blues Away?

Rating

2 Star

Can You Really Botox the Blues Away?

Our Review Summary

The comment in this story that Botox for depression has “nearly twice the success rate of antidepressants” is quite skewed. Antidepressants have been evaluated in large-scale, double-blind randomized trials with several thousands of patients. This study only provides anecdotal evidence of the effect of Botox on 10 clinically depressed patients. The success rates of the two treatments are not comparable. Further study of this treatment should include more people, and there should be a control group who get placebo injections. Also, a more thorough psychiatric evaluation is needed pre- and post-treatment, preferably by an interviewer not involved in the study.

In clinical practice as a dermatologist, Dr. Finzi would benefit financially from patients using Botox for depression, so additional sources unaffiliated with the study are needed for balance and perspective on his findings. The comment that, “Clinical psychologists reacted to the study with skepticism” is incomplete: A critic of the study should be cited in the story. An addendum critiquing the study is available with the Dermatological Surgery journal article, and the two authors of this editorial are potential sources for this news story.

The story does not discuss side effects of Botox injections, which may include: temporary bruising, headaches, and in some patients, temporary eyelid drooping. The story does provide the average cost of Botox injections for frown lines, which is about $400 every 3-4 months, as the effect of the injections is short-lived. We do not know if this study was funded by the makers of Botox.

Lastly, the comments by Dr. Joshua Fogel and Dr. Andrew Elmore seem tangential to the actual study of Botox for depression treatment. There may be some neuropsychological tie between facial expression and mood, but further evidence is needed, and costly Botox injections may not be the only intervention to test this theory.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not provide the cost of Botox injections for frown lines, nor does it mention that Botox must be repeated every 3-4 months to maintain reduced frown lines. The average cost of Botox is $400, with an average annual cost of $1200.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The comment that the effectiveness of Botox is nearly twice that of antidepressants is quite skewed. Antidepressants have been evaluated in large-scale, double-blind randomized trials with thousands of patients. This study only provides anecdotal evidence of the effect of Botox in 10 patients. The success rates of the two treatments are not comparable. There is a comment that 9 of the 10 patients’ symptoms of depression were eliminated, but the story gave no explanation of how these symptoms were measured. Further study of this treatment should have more people and there should be a control group of people who get placebo injections. A more thorough psychiatric evaluation is needed pre- and post-treatment, preferably by an interviewer not involved in the study.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No information of the potential side effects of Botox injections for reducing frown lines. Common side effects of Botox injections may include: temporary bruising, headaches, and some patients develop temporary eyelid drooping.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

There is little quantitative evidence presented in this story. Study of this treatment compared with placebo in a larger, randomized study would be necessary to provide evidence to support the theory of manipulation of facial muscles for the treatment for symptoms of depression.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not appear to be disease mongering. There is no discussion of the prevalence or social impact of depression.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

Dr. Finzi would benefit financially from patients using Botox for depression. Sources other than proponents of the study and Dr. Finzi’s patients are needed for balanced perspective. The comment that, “Clinical psychologists reacted to the study with skepticism” is incomplete; a critic of the study should be cited. (An addendum critiquing the study is part of the journal article, and the two authors of this editorial are potential sources for this news story.) The comments from Dr. Joshua Fogel and Dr. Andrew Elmore seem tangential to the actual Botox for depression treatment. There may be some neuropsychological tie between facial expressions and mood, but further evidence is needed and costly Botox injections may not be the only intervention to test this theory. The story did not discose if the study was funded by the makers of Botox.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention other evidence-based treatments for depression, including psychotherapy and anti-depressant medications.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story inadequately addresses the availability of the Botox for depression. Botox is available for treatment of frown lines for up to 120 days; it is not approved for the treatment of depression, which is not mentioned in the story. Treatment with Botox would be an off-label use. Most physicans who treat depression wouldn’t currently have Botox available or the training to properly administer the injections. Dr. Finzi may have applied for a patent to use Botox for this purpose, but that does not ensure FDA approval.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

Botox is used to decrease frown lines, which purportedly would help people appear happier and improve their depression. The story acknowledges that Botox as a possible treatment for depression is novel.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

There is no evidence this story is from a press release.

Total Score: 3 of 10 Satisfactory

Comments

Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.