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Improve Appearance to Treat Depression

Controversial study indicates that treatment of appearance can reduce the effects of clinical depression.

A new study indicates the feeling of improved appearance may reduce depression.


May 22, 2006 -- Sacramento -- The saying, "If you look good, you feel good," may have a basis in scientific fact according to a controversial new study published in May 2006 edition of the medical journal Dermatologic Surgery.

The limited study by Baltimore cosmetic dermatologist Eric Finzi, MD, PhD indicates that the common and serious disease of major depression that is resistant to routine pharmacologic and psychotherapeutic treatment approaches may be successfully treated by minor cosmetic procedures that provide the patient with a feeling of improved appearance.

Dr. Finzi selected ten female patients from his dermatology practice who met the standards for ongoing major depression, based on their responses to standardized depression surveys. Four patients had been treated with psychotherapy. Seven had tried antidepressants.

Botox injections were given into facial muscles used for frowning, giving the patients a facial expression that they believed to be more pleasant. After two months the patients were surveyed and nine of the ten patients appeared to no longer be depressed. The tenth patient had improved, but not fully out of depression.

The study may have implications on the benefits of other cosmetic procedures and even the popular Lasik laser eye surgery. Many who have Lasik indicate the feeling of improved appearance without the need for spectacles, however no study has demonstrated a connection between Lasik and a reduction in depression. A connection is only...speculation.

Dr. Finzi's study did not include a control group or other common techniques to exclude patient and physician bias, so the information is considered anecdotal until additional detailed studies affirm the apparent result.

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