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Reduce Depression with Posture

Posted on Feb. 8, 2017, 6 a.m. in Depression Brain and Mental Performance

Researchers have found evidence suggesting that feelings of depression can be lessened simply by sitting up straight, rather than slouching.

It’s estimated that between 7% and 10% of the American population suffers from some type of depression. While many seek treatment through the use of anti-depressant drugs, a growing number of people look for non-drug related therapies. Exercise, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, light therapy, and diet among others have been included in that group of remedies. Now, a new study suggests another non-drug avenue to explore.

Think about posture for a moment. Picture a person who is lively, alert, and confident. How would they be sitting in a chair or on a sofa? Compare that image with a person who is tired, cranky, or lethargic. What would their posture tell you about how each person was feeling?

Researchers in Australia wanted to know if posture could possibly effect depression. They identified 61 individuals exhibiting signs of depression. Participants were divided into two groups and asked to perform mildly stressful tasks. The first group was asked to use good posture during the activities while the second was allowed their usual posture.

The first group reported feeling less stress, less fatigue, and a greater interest or connection to the tasks. The second group rated the tasks as more stressful, more tiring, and less interesting. In other words, posture had a positive effect on the mood of the participants.

While this study was small in scope and by no means conclusive, it did lend credibility to the idea that at least in the short term, posture can positively affect mood. Additional research would be needed to confirm this theory, but the good news is that good posture can never hurt and is easy to try on your own.

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Carissa Wilkes et al, Upright posture improves affect and fatigue in people with depressive symptoms, Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2016.07.015

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