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Treating laughter lines leaves patients feeling more depressed

11 April 2013

Injections of botulism toxin A (often referred to as Botox) to reduce crows' feet leaves people feeling more depressed, according to new research by a Cardiff University psychologist.

A study carried out on people who had received Botox treatment for facial lines found that depending on which facial lines were treated, determined how depressed they felt. Consistent with previous findings, the treatment of frown lines left the clients feeling less depressed, yet people who had received treatment for crows’ feet reported feeling more depressed.

In a paper delivered today at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference, Dr Michael Lewis of the School of Psychology explains that reducing facial lines through the application of Botox injections can affect the way we feel and even how we see the world:

"The expressions that we make on our face affects the emotions we feel; 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. For example, those treated for frown lines with Botox are not able to frown as strongly. This interrupts the feedback they would normally get from their face and they feel less sad.

"The new finding being reported today concerns the impact of treatments for crows’ feet. The muscles around the eyes are used when forming a real smile and so it was predicted that treatment of the muscles that cause these will reduce the strength of a smile. The results supported this prediction."

The effects of Botox on other emotions are also considered. Heightened feelings of disgust are a feature of some forms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Dr Lewis proposes that drugs similar to Botox could be targeted to reduce the facial expression of disgust. Such a treatment might reduce the patient’s feelings of disgust and hence might reduce their OCD symptoms.

ENDS

Botox is the popular name for a particular type of cosmetic treatment. The name comes from the brand of the drug most commonly used for this treatment: Botox®. The generic name for this drug is Botulinum Toxin A. Other licensed brands of this drug are Dysport® and Myobloc®.

This research was not supported by any pharmaceutical companies.

The findings presented today, 11 April, at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Harrogate.

Useful links:

School of Psychology

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans.  Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff's three flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Tomas Llewelyn Barrett
Public Relations
Cardiff University
Tel: 029 20 875 596
Mobile: 07950792532
E-mail: BarrettTL1@cardiff.ac.uk