Can Good Posture Ease Depression Symptoms?

Do yourself a favor right now, and†sit†up a little straighter in your chair, on your couch or wherever may be. Take notice of how it makes you feel.

Previous research has shown that good posture can offer a self-esteem boost, while increasing positive†mood states. Now, a new study†suggests that it may actually help†in treating depression.

According to this†research, bad posture is actually a diagnostic component of depression. To determine whether changes in posture could†reduce negative feelings and fatigue, researchers screened and selected 61 participants with symptoms†of mild to moderate depression.

The subjects were randomly assigned to sit down while maintaining their usual posture or while maintaining an upright posture. The upright group had to†straighten their backs, keep the tops of their heads level with the ceiling and and keep their shoulder blades pulled back and down. Physiotherapy tape was applied to the subjects to help them maintain this†position as they completed the Trier Social Stress Test, a speech test designed to reliably trigger stress in participants.

The subjects who maintained an upright posture showed†improvements in their positivity and reduction in fatigue compared to those who maintained their usual posture. During the speech test, the subjects who†sat upright used†significantly more words and fewer first person singular personal pronouns when compared to the group†that sat in their usual position. These†findings suggest that participants with improved posture were†more energetic and less self-focused than†the other group.

In both groups of participants, upright shoulder angle was linked to reduced negativity and anxiety. Because the study was brief and only looked at changes that occurred over a short period of time in mild to moderate cases of depression, future research will†be necessary to determine how posture might affect people with clinical depression, particularly in the long term.

Despite the limitations, the study’s findings suggest that it’s worth†paying attention to your posture. You could instantly feel more positive, less fatigued and less focused on yourself.

Tips for improving posture

It’s easy enough to tell yourself to stand or sit up straight, but how do you know if you’re doing it correctly? Here are a few tips from†WebMD:

  • Practice standing up against a wall, as if you were going to measure your height.
  • Look straight forward in front of you, and tuck your chin in slightly.
  • Move your shoulders back, and check to see that your ears are†over the middle of your shoulders.
  • Check to make sure your stomach is tucked in and that your butt†or hips don’t†stick out.
  • Straighten your legs†to encourage your entire body to lengthen as you feel your head stretching toward the ceiling.
  • If you’re sitting, sit all the way back up against your seat and optionally use a small, rolled up towel behind your back to maintain your back’s natural curve.
  • While sitting, bend your knees so that they’re hip height or slightly higher and keep your feet flat on the ground.

As an added tip, remember that your posture can be seriously affected by how you position your neck and head to look at computer screens or mobile devices. Adjust your computer monitor so that it is†visible†directly†in front of you, and hold your mobile device closer†to your face†while using your eyes ó not your neck or head ó to look at it.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

53 comments

William C
William C6 months ago

Thank you.

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W. C
W. C6 months ago

Thanks.

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Siyus C
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Jetana A
Jetana A1 years ago

Thanks for the reminder. It's hard to find the energy for good posture when suffering the overwhelming fatigue of deep depression, but those few minutes erect do bring a temporary, modest, mood improvement.

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Jennifer F
Jennifer F1 years ago

Good posture is a good thing. As far as helping depression I feel that is a little far-fetched.

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Telica R
Telica R1 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Samantha J
Samantha J1 years ago

I believe it helps.

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Winn A
Winn A1 years ago

Get professional help too.

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Winn A
Winn A1 years ago

Thanks

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Winn A
Winn A1 years ago

If it helps, it helps.

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