What Botox teaches us about depression

Botox injections “freeze” the face and prevent its recipients from moving their face and showing emotion. We’ve all seen it. Celebrities whose faces seem set in stone. We laugh about it. But what if this teaches us something about our moods. Maybe Botox has another “up” side. (Oh, my, that was a great pun, wasn’t it?)

But what if it does more than just “freezing” the face?  What if it also “freezes” one’s   emotions?

Social scientists, psychiatrists, and psychologists have known for years that the physical act of smiling, promotes a feeling of well-being. So if one were unable to smile, would the counter run true as well? If a person couldn’t smile, would that effect their mood? Would it affect a person’s ability to feel?

Turns out that the answer is “yes”.

An experiment conducted at Barnard College by Joshua Ian and his colleagues proves that the partial paralysis from Botox does in fact diminish one’s ability to feel emotion. The hypothesis was that if this proved to be true, then this same theory could be used to treat anxiety and depression by directly addressing facial expressions in a way that stops negative emotions from leading to serious emotional and mental issues.

Two groups of women were chosen, those with Botox treatment and those without. The women were asked to watch several video clips, from funny to scary. After viewing the clips the women were asked to rate how they felt. The women with the Botox reported less of an emotional reaction to the clips. This proved that immobility of facial expressions causes a loss in emotional experience.


I found this study fascinating.

I had learned by observing my own behavior that if I acted like I wasn’t depressed, my mood would lighten. In other words, if I could purposely manipulate my facial expressions, I would feel better. On the days I could make myself smile, my depression would run scurrying to the corner.

It is a principle that has been scientifically proven to work. I am always surprised that more people aren’t aware of this. It’s been documented for years. And if you think about it, you know yourself from your own experience that this is true.

How we hold ourselves, how we walk, how we present ourselves absolutely affects how we feel about ourselves.

If you can force yourself to smile whether it’s genuine or not (your brain doesn’t know the difference) your mood will lighten.

Smiling isn’t just a good idea; it’s an observable, legitimate, and proven way to lighten one’s mood.


I’m not making light of a serious condition.  But managin depression begins with some simple steps.

Try turning up the corners of your mouth. Honestly, it really works!

God bless and I hope you have a good day.