Are you feeling blue? Do you need a pick-me-up? Are you constantly frowning? Maybe you need something less incisive than therapy and mood-altering than pills. Maybe it’s time for Botox! Why wrestle with your demons when you can inject them with botulism? Time brings us the heart-warming, face-freezing story of researchers who have recently studied a possible link between Botox and happiness:
The study, published in the March issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, followed 25 cosmetic-surgery patients, 12 of whom received injections of Botulinum Toxin A or similar neurotoxins, the others receiving fillers, peels or other cosmetic treatments for wrinkles. Two weeks after the treatments, the patients filled out a Hospital Anxiety and Depression test — a self-screening questionnaire for depression and anxiety. They also rated the success of their treatments. “The Botox patients scored much lower on measures of depression, anxiety and irritability,” explains Michael Lewis, a psychology professor at the University of Cardiff and lead author of the study.
There is so much wrong here. First, 25 patients is not anywhere near a respectable sample size. Second, the patients self-screened their anxiety and depression levels rather than being evaluated by mental health professionals. Third, this concentrated on the happiness relative to a two-week period following one Botox treatment, hardly a valuable indicator of any long-term mood changes. But whatever, let’s treat it like reliable science so we can show people (especially women) how happy getting cosmetic enhancements will make you! As for the theory behind the Botox-happiness link, the scientists cited in the article believe that actually paralyzing your muscles so that you are unable to frown will trick your brain into thinking you are happy. Do any of you buy it? Personally, I’ll stick with my therapist. It’s not fun, but at least I’m not being injected with toxic material and my face moves when I smile.