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Poor Posture Promotes Depression

Thursday, April 6, 2017

While most people believe the highest amount of depression related suicides occurs in the winter, the facts say its springtime. Common beliefs are not always true beliefs. With spring here we need to try and counteract depression in every possible way.

Feeling down from the usual winter weight gain, the grayness of winter, a job you don’t like, or just a bad day? Research has proven that better posture can help with depression. No more prescription drugs or therapy needed!

Growing up, you likely heard a lot of ‘sit up straight’ and ‘eat your veggies’. There is truth behind those!

An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from mild to moderated depression. Research has found that many people can get some measurable relief simply by improving their posture (study done by the University of Auckland in New Zealand). The researchers noticed that these depressed people were typically sitting in a more slumped posture than non-depressed people and knew that better posture eased stress, so could it also reduce depression? 1

In this study were 61 patients with mild to moderate depression. Researchers divided the participants randomly in two groups. One group sat in their normal slouched position. The other group sat upright with straight backs, level shoulders and neck/head straight (physiotherapy tape was used to keep upright posture on their backs). 2

The researchers setup two tests for the groups to participate in. The first test, a five-minute speech was delivered. The second test, they were asked to count backwards from 1,022 in steps of 13.

Throughout both tests, the group with upright posture showed less fatigue, more enthusiasm and fewer depression markers than the other group. Those with good posture exhibited less fear, were more outgoing, spoke more clearly, had fewer error when counting down and used more words in their speech. These behaviors and emotions are signs that their depression was reduced. 3

Dr. Elizabeth Broadbent, the co-author and an associate professor of psychological medicine at Auckland University, observed that the subjects sitting upright had “more energy, had less negative mood and were less self-focused”. She also found “Compared to sitting in a slumped position, sitting upright can make you feel more proud after a success, increase your persistence at an unsolvable task and make you feel more confident in your thoughts”. 4

It is important to note that “For severe, disabling depression, sitting posture is not likely to make much of a difference. But for mild or moderate depression, sitting up straight may help patients manage their mood and be more productive.”  And that “Sitting upright can make you feel more alert and enthusiastic, feel less fearful, and have higher self-esteem,”

Dr. Broadbent’s findings are to be published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. 5