Interesting new research from The Georgetown University Medical Center confirms what researchers Cardiff University in The UK and at The University of Basel had previously described as an interesting side effect of receiving injections of neuromodulator (like Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin) – namely a significant and measurable improvement in patient’s symptoms of depression.
Patients with a diagnosis of major depression were randomly assigned to receive either Botox or placebo injections (saline solution), with monitoring and self-reporting of their symptoms of depression. Six weeks after the treatments, an impressive 52% of the patients who received Botox were found to have significant improvement in their symptoms and moods, with only 15 percent of the saline solution group showing improvement (this number is consistent with the placebo effect).
The reasonable, if not intuitive conclusion suggested by these repeated findings, is that by locally restricting a person’s ability to frown or otherwise create the facial expressions associated with unhappiness, we can diminish the feelings and symptoms associated with unhappiness. In other words, it seems that, at least to a certain extent, we do not frown because we are unhappy, but are unhappy because we frown.
What is interesting to consider (and may not ever be able to be discerned) is how much of the beneficial effect in mood and symptoms of depression was due to the patient’s perception of an improvement in appearance.
It seems that, at least to a certain extent, we do not frown because we are unhappy, but are unhappy because we frown.
I think the findings of these well done studies can actually be verified “on the cheap”- try it yourself- see if you can go a whole day without frowning or otherwise making unhappy faces, and see if you don’t feel better at the end of the day. Now, this will prove more difficult than most of us think- and the trouble is that as this research suggests, facial expression and feelings of unhappiness are so tightly linked that those of us in the most need of the ability to stop making unhappy faces are the ones least likely to be able to do so without help.
So if you find yourself feeling blue at the end of a stressful day, or think your face looks more unhappy than you feel, it might be worth considering talking to your friendly neighborhood Board Certified Plastic Surgeon or Dermatologist about a spot of Xeomin, Dysport, or Botox. Life is short- it’s better to enjoy it, and if it’s possible to do something safely that makes it easier to enjoy our lives, who wouldn’t?