A NEW BOOK ON HOW TO—LITERALLY—STAND UP TO DEPRESSION (Achieve Good Posture and Trigger Better Mood)
So much has been written about the mind-body connection—and rightfully so. It now seems obvious that our psychological state affects the function not only of the central nervous system, but the heart and every organ in the body. Diseases from cancer to multiple sclerosis to hypertension, and everything in between, demonstrate undeniable links to depression, emotional trauma and unresolved, underlying anger.
We are lucky to have recognized the ways that yoga can stave off dementia and the ways that meditation can increase longevity.
Too little, however, has been written about the mirror image of the mind-body connection—the body-mind connection. Yet we do know that correcting bodily abnormalities can correct emotional ones. Certainly, exercise can improve mood, but that isn’t half the story. We are learning incredible ways in which one’s psychological equilibrium can be optimized by optimizing one’s physical equilibrium.
Simply put, developing physical balance is linked to developing emotional balance. This is not theory, anymore; it is fact. One example: Botox, which prevents the brow from furrowing when we worry, also seems to short-circuit worry itself. When we relax the muscles that contract too powerfully when we are over-wrought, the mind seems to relax, too.
Another example: Probiotics that alter bacterial colonization of the gut can insulate the mind from profound highs and lows of mood.
These examples are just the beginning. Our bodily state influences our mental state in myriad ways.
Now, physical therapist Kathi Fairbend, MS, RPT is adding a crucial contribution. Her new book, Stand Up to Depression makes the simple, elegant and powerful point that correcting one’s posture can literally pave the way to elevating one’s mood.
As Fairbend makes plain, if you teach yourself to stand up like a person who isn’t depressed, you will be in a better position (quite literally) to become a person who isn’t depressed.
Think about it: If using Botox to block the contractions of a few muscles in one’s forehead can treat depression, imagine what can happen when (with the help of Ms. Fairbend’s book) you learn to stand up to depression, stop slouching, walk confidently and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Dozens of your muscles will resonate with your intention to stand up straight in life, shoulder your troubles and refuse the negative feedback that comes from inadvertently bending an ankle or buckling a knee, with every step you take.
Depression is insidious. It hobbles its victims mentally, but also physically. Reverse the physical decline, and it helps to reverse the mental decline.
I was lucky enough to consult to Ms. Fairbend as she wrote her groundbreaking book through my company Keith Ablow Creative. I have had a front row seat to the birth of a new specialty of physical therapy—physical therapy for the mind. And I can envision a time when, with Ms. Fairbend’s help, thousands of physical therapists will treat hundreds of thousands of patients who come to them not only for help with joints and muscles and bones, but for help with depression and anxiety.
For now, that help can come directly from Ms. Fairbend’s book. Stand Up to Depression stands alone as the way that people can tap into the brilliance of (as I see it) America’s leading physical therapist, a woman whose entire life’s work makes her uniquely qualified to take her readers on a bold new path of healing.
Keith Ablow, MD