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Botox Makes You Happier

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I don't know about you, girlfriends, but when I look in a mirror and see my mother's angry frown lines, the ones that lashed out at me when I had been a naughty girl, now making a big entrance on my own face, I do not feel happy.

woman receiving injection in face

Dr. Wendy Walsh: And when my furrowed brow relaxes and smoothes out, this vision in my bathroom mirror somehow lifts my spirits. I personally think Botox can make women feel happier. So am I being superficial? Perhaps not.

Psychiatrist Eva Ritvo even backs me up. Her book, The Beauty Prescription, which she co-authored with dermatologist Dr. Debra Luftman, makes a case that beauty improvements create a feedback loop in the environment. Pretty people get more rewards, and that helps fuel their brain with self-esteem and positive feelings. According to the book, "In our modern world, research shows that beautiful people earn more money, get a better break in the legal system, get more help from strangers, advance further in their careers and are generally happier."

Dr. Ritvo had a personal experience recently that confirmed her own suspicions that Botox can contribute to happiness. She had just come out of a very sad movie soon after receiving Botox injections around her eyes and had a strange reaction. "For some reason, the paralysis of the muscles in my glabellar area due to the injections of botulinum toxin A rendered me totally unable to cry. Curious," Ritvo said. "But even more surprisingly, when I couldn't cry, I quickly stopped feeling sad. I left the movie with my girlfriend, who was feeling very down, and I felt so odd that I couldn't find those emotions. I was ready to go to the next activity. Sadness was nowhere to be found. It was as if the emotion came up, couldn't be expressed, and so, went away."

Research is starting to back up the suspicions of both Dr. Ritvo and myself. According to Psychology Today, "It has long been an assumption that there is a link between physical expression of emotions and the intensity of those emotions, otherwise known as the 'facial feedback theory.' " An intriguing pilot study conducted in 2006 by dermatologist Eric Finzi, M.D., Ph.D., evaluated the effectiveness of Botox in treating depression. In the study, Finzi injected ten women (nine with depression and one with bipolar disorder) with Botox in their glabellar frown lines. "After two months, all nine with depression were diagnosed as no longer showing signs of depression. Even the woman with bipolar disorder reported improvements in mood."

Dr. Ritvo hopes to see more research in this area. Although clinical depression involves much more than feelings of sadness, finding a treatment for this symptom might help many people find relief.

Ritvo does admit that sadness is a normal part of the human psyche -- and suppressing sad feelings in an otherwise healthy person might not be the best idea. She's happy to report that as her Botox wore off, she found her tears again -- and is glad to have them back.


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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
ally January 20, 2010, 9:23 AM

Call me shallow, but after I lost 30 pounds recently, my life dramatically improved. I had renewed confidence in my ability to do whatever I put my mind to. I had confidence to demand the things want. I knew I was (am) pleasing, physically, to most people by current society standards, and that just gave me that little UP.

I also use Botox because I remember thinking my mom was ALWAYS mad (she had that “pinch”). I don’t want my kids to think I’m forever bitchy.

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