A new study reveals that botulinum toxin injections, commonly used in the aesthetics sector as anti-wrinkle treatments, could help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
As botulinum injections relax muscles, they temporarily smooth out lines and wrinkles. Scientists quoted in an article on euronews.com say that this treatment could also be used to dampen emotions, by relaxing the ‘grief muscles’.
According to the article, the premise of this theory is that while certain facial expressions (like frowning) are caused by negative emotions, the facial expressions themselves actually reinforce those feelings in a vicious cycle.
Senior author of the study, psychiatry expert and researcher, Dr Axel Wollmer, says this whole field of research using botulinum toxin as a treatment for mental disorders is based on the facial feedback hypothesis
Euronews.com reports that Wollmer and researchers from the Hannover Medical School in Germany, set out to build on previous research into botulinum toxin injections in the ‘frown area’ (i.e. above the nose and between the eyebrows) to see what happens in the brain when this negative feedback loop is broken, by relaxing the grief muscles.
The researchers looked at 45 female patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD), with the trial showing an improvement after treatment. MRI scans revealed a soothing effect on the amygdala region of the brain, which is critically involved in the processing of negative emotions.