Can Botox Really Make You Happier?
Feeling depressed? A little Botox may cheer you right up. While it sounds like a quote from HBO’s Sex and the City, it appears, according to the latest research, that Botox could actually make you happier.
Don’t Worry, Get Botox
So says cosmetic dermatologist, Eric Finzi, and his research partner, professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School, Norman Rosenthal, in their study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in May of this year. (www.journalofpsychiatricresearch.com)
And their findings are pretty compelling, with 52 percent of subjects who received onabotulinumtoxinA (or Botox) injections exhibited relief from depression, compared with only 15 percent of those who received a saline placebo. Researchers used the results of a group of 74 randomly assigned patients, all of whom had been previously diagnosed with major depression and received either Botox or saline injections in the forehead, making it harder for the patients to frown.
Frinzi and Rosenthal’s conclusion – “ . . . a single treatment with OBA (onabotulinumtoxinA) to the corrugator and procerus muscles appears to induce a significant and sustained antidepressant effect in patients with major depression.”
Put on a Happy Face
Intuitively we all seem to recognize the power of a smile to shift mood and change the course of our day. In fact, we’ve often heard people say things like such as: “smile,” “put on a happy face,” “fake it ‘til you make it” or “a good mood is contagious.” But most of us don’t actually believe that just the simple act of smiling could chase away our blues and up until recently, we didn’t have the science to back up these commonly held notions.
But several other studies in the last 5 years seem to substantiate Frinzi and Rosenthal’s findings, including those from psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales, which showed that even healthy people who had Botox injections were happier and less anxious than those who hadn’t. (www.cardiff.ac.uk)
In 2009, German researchers also looked at the correlations between facial expressiveness and Botox injections. Healthy individuals were asked to make an angry face while having their brains scanned by a functional MRI. Those who received Botox injections appeared to have much less activation in areas of the brain that process emotions than those with no injections. It’s been theorized that those that cannot make an active angry face feel less angry, disrupting an emotional feedback loop and reducing the intensity of the emotion. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
In another U.S. study at the University of Wisconsin, researchers found that by blocking the body’s natural emotive movements, there is a kind of rippling effect on emotion and even the language used to express it. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Researcher David Havas states, “There is a long-standing idea in psychology called the facial feedback hypothesis. Essentially, it says when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you… Actually, this study suggests the opposite; when you’re not frowning, the world seems less angry and less sad.”
Finzi also believes that a facial expression is the driving force of our emotions, that sad thought causes frowning and frowning increases sad thought. He even goes so far as to now prescribe Botox for his patients to treat their depression.
So, if you’re feeling a little sad, give Botox a try… and in the process, kiss those frown lines goodbye.