Can Botox Change Your Mood? | Body Language Series
Botox, or botulinum toxin, is a neurotoxin that works by freezing muscles in the area that it’s injected. Botox and it’s pharmacological cousins can be used for things like reducing sweat and migraines, but it’s more commonly used for cosmetic reasons like altering “crows feet” and “frown lines.” Those wrinkles and creases on the face are created over time by the movement of our facial muscles which are created in response to our emotions.
What happens to your mood if you use botox to stop those muscles from making their full expressions?
There have been a variety of studies examining the effects of freezing certain muscles in regards to treating depression and anxiety. For instance, does turning up the edges of the lips with dermal fillers could trick the body into thinking that it’s happy? As we know from the classic study, holding a pencil between your teeth to fake a smile actually making people happier, it seems likely that if it’s possible to train your muscles into communicating an emotion to your brain.
One study on happiness and Botox published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology studied a group of women who were treated with either Botox or other wrinkle treatments such as peels, fillers, etc. and found that the women who received Botox reported lower levels of depression, anxiety, and irritability in the weeks following their treatment when compared to the women who had received other treatments. Overall the women felt similarly about their appearances post treatment, so the differences in mood did not seem to be correlated to that.
As it turns out, this concept of affecting the mood by controlling the facial expression is not new, at all.
Good old Charles Darwin came up with the “facial feedback hypothesis” back in 1872, stating that “the free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it.” There are two different theories about why this occurs, and it’s not just because the brain responds to the facial expression. It also might have something to do with the types of reactions that people get from other people. If you’re walking around scowling at the world, the world is more likely to scowl back, and the same is true about looking happy and welcoming. If more people are smiling at you throughout the day it’s likely that you’ll pick up the good mood yourself. Moods can be contagious, after all.
In yet another study done at Columbia University, they found little changes in the mood of people who had received Botox but instead found some surprising ones about Restylane injections. Women who had the dermal filler injected into the nasolabial folds that run from the nose to the mouth actually showed an increase in emotional reactions when showed videos that elicited a response of disgust. Restylane causes a bit of swelling in the body, so the theory is that the swelling has an effect on the muscle around the mouth that is used to express that emotion.
The studies that have been done on this topic obviously show a bit of variation in their results, but it’s certainly a possibility that these injectable substances are affecting emotions, even if it’s just in small amounts. The question is whether it’s enough to actually cause a problem for anyone, have some awesome results, or even be noticeable at all.
Could this be a very strong example of “fake it ’till you make it”?
Lewis, M. B., and P. J. Bowler. “Botulinum Toxin Cosmetic Therapy Correlates with a More Positive Mood.” Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2009. Web. 22 May 2017.
Davis, Joshua Ian, Ann Senghas, Fredric Brandt, and Kevin N. Ochsner. “The Effects of BOTOX® Injections on Emotional Experience.” Emotion (Washington, D.C.). U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2010. Web. 22 May 2017.