Body language and depression

The rates of depression in America have never been higher, and technology is to blame.

Many studies have demonstrated the addictive nature of social media and its negative effects on our interpersonal relationships. By all accounts, TV is negatively impacting the average American waistline. And it cannot help our collective psyche that we can find out every horrible thing that has happened in the last 24 hours by simply reaching into our pockets and pulling out our minicomputers. If you can somehow navigate that minefield with your positive attitude intact, you still have to worry about your body language.  

It has become well-established that body language can affect your psychology, from power positions that make you feel confident to smiling to improve your mood. There is a reciprocal feedback loop between the brain and the body: If your brain says, “I’m happy,” your body responds with a smile. If your body smiles, your brain says, “I must be happy about something.”

This is awesome when used in a positive manner—for example, this TED talk elaborates on the aforementioned power positions.  However, it becomes a lot less awesome when you realize that the majority of the population is subconsciously predisposing their minds to depression. Let me explain.

The posture of a depressed person is typically hunched forward, with a rounded back and rounded shoulders. Depressed people subconsciously try to make themselves small and extend their necks forward. The latter is a sign of submission in the animal kingdom, and it doesn’t have any redeeming qualities in the realm of people.

Does this posture sound familiar? Look around at the people you see using their phones or working on a laptop. I bet you can spot a number of them with two or more of those depression posture cues.

So ask yourself, how many hours per day are you adopting this posture? Is it negatively affecting your psychology? Do you find yourself happier when you aren’t using technology?

Whatever your answers to those questions, it is important to note that your body will adapt to whatever posture you spend the most time in! If you adopt a depressive posture for eight hours at work, your body will be predisposed to adopting that posture throughout the rest of the day.

If you feel like you already have taken your work posture home with you, check out our posture playlist or reach out about having us come to your office!

Jake Dermer