“Botox: A Shot at Happiness” was recently featured in the Globe & Mail (Friday, April 3, 2009). According to a study done by Dr. Michael Lewis, an experimental psychologist at Cardiff University in Wales, shows that patients who have their frown lines treated with Botox tend to be happier because they are in a better mood.
My husband brought this article to my attention, and when I read it I thought “Great blog!”. Apparently, this Dr. Lewis teamed up with a number of British cosmetic surgery clinics and followed 25 women who have undergone various facial procedures. Twelve women had their frown lines treated and 13 had other areas done with Botox. Questionnaires (including the “Irritability-Depression-Anxiety Scale”) were filled out after the treatments so the results could be quantified.
Women treated with Botox scored “significantly lower” on the anxiety and depression scale. However, looking younger and feeling refreshed didn’t seem to explain the difference as, according to the study, both groups were equally as happy with their results.
Dr. Lewis extrapolated (okay, guessed, but hey, I have to use the big words when I can) that a phenmenon called “facial feedback” is the cause of the happier feelings. Charles Darwin was the first to suggest that frowning naturally makes people unhappier and conversely, (like I said, big words), smiling naturally makes people happier. Apparently there is growing evidence such as this to prove that theory true.
I mean, it’s common sense that when someone looks at you and says “hey, you look great today” instead of “oh, you look tired” or “what’s wrong? You look stressed, upset, or angry”, the “hey, you look great” is going to make you feel better about yourself and therefore happier. It’s like when you haven’t lost a single pound but people say “you look great, have you lost weight?” I always respond by saying, “Why, was I fat before?”, but it really does make me feel good that my peers think I look fabulous.
The more medical explanation of “facial feedback”, according to Dr. Marcia Fleming, is that the frown muscles are referred to as “negative muscles” and trigger negative responses in the brain, which in turn, make you less happy. On the other hand, when you smile you use “positive muscles” which release endorphins to the brain, and endorphins make you happy. So Botox prevents you from using your negative muscles and promotes positive muscle use, thereby promoting the release of endorphins in your brain, therefore making you happier.
It’s also my own experience that when you feel good about yourself and the way you look, you both display and carry yourself with more confidence. That, in turn, makes people perceive you as being happier, obviously more confident, more content – like you’ve got it all together, which I find really empowering. And when you feel like you can achieve, and you feel good about yourself, you can accomplish just about anything your heart desires.
And, BTW, Botox is also used to reduce or eliminate migraines and also control excessive sweating, commonly referred to as “hyperhidrosis”, which getting this condition under control, can also make a person happier…
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