Can forcing your cheeks into a smile make you feel happier?

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Offline Michael Cochran

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Michael Cochran  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi Chris,
 
I enjoy your 702/Cape Talk programme with Redi.
 
I saw on Brainiac a depressed man with a comedian trying to cheer him up. It didn't work and he remained glum. 
 
A pencil was put transversely into his mouth raising his cheeks and he felt much better and enjoyed the comedian's antics. 
 
Apparently the movement caused by the pencil triggered something which made him feel better.  Please confirm this as I find it very interesting and so do my fellow inmates in an old age home.
 
Kind regards
 
Michael Cochran

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Offline Chelsie

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Can forcing your cheeks into a smile make you feel happier?
« Reply #1 on: 03/08/2009 11:00:49 »
There has been some recent neuro research that has shown that the act of smiling (even a forced smile) triggers a release of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter or the brain's "feel good" chemical. People with depression are often linked with decreased serotonin levels and this research shows that they can increase their levels by smiling or acting happy even if they are not. I doubt the increases is enough to replace depression medications. It is most likely something you would add on top of medications and therapy. Although those without depression could definitely benefit by increasing their personal happiness.

Here is an article on serotonin if you are interested: http://www.anxiety-and-depression-solutions.com/insight_answers/serotonin.php
« Last Edit: 03/08/2009 11:15:14 by Chelsie »
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