Toxins could change emotions
Paralysing facial muscles may alter long-term mood
A study has found that botox could alter emotions, and could even be used to treat mood disorders. The research, led by Dr Michael Lewis of the School of Psychology, Cardiff, Wales, tracked 25 people, following injections with botox. They found that the treatment, to disrupt natural expressions, could also alter mood.
“The expressions that we make on our face affects the emotions we feel,” explains Dr Lewis. “We smile because we are happy, but smiling also makes us happy. Treatment with drugs like Botox prevents the patient from being able to make a particular expression.”
Initially, the researchers investigated the possibility of botox having a depressant action. Facial muscles associated with smiling, are known to have a ‘feedback effect’, channelling messages back to the brain, to maintain an uplifted mood. If these muscles are paralysed, such as in the application of botox to certain areas of the face, this feedback doesn’t occur. Dr Lewis’s study found higher self-reported depression in patients treated for crow’s feet (the ‘smile’ eye area) and frown lines, than frown lines alone.
Dr Lewis also suggests the findings have applications in preventing obsessive compulsive disorder. He theorises, that facial muscles associated with disgust could be paralysed, using botox. In theory, this could help alleviate the strong feelings which compel OCD sufferers to carry out obsessive behaviours.
“Those treated for frown lines with Botox are not able to frown as strongly,” he explains. “This interrupts the feedback they would normally get from their face and they feel less sad.”