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 Post subject: Can dancing cure depression?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2004 5:47 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 107
Location: London, England
A little while ago I read a post in this forum about how dancing makes you feel, and a couple of people said that to them taking dance classes was like therapy.

I'm quite interested in the idea that dancing could be good for your mental health as well as as your physical well-being.

Anyone got any thoughts/experience/opinions on the matter? I'm a journalist, and thinking about following this up for an article.


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 Post subject: Re: Can dancing cure depression?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2004 10:13 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2003 11:01 pm
Posts: 38
Location: New York
This is an interesting topic. I wonder, though, if dancing itself is therapeutic or a sign that someone is coming out of a depressive episode. One of the criteria for true depression is a loss of interest - most depressed patients just sit at home and never get out to do their regular activities. So, it would seem that in most cases depressed people wouldn't get out to even try dancing.

On the other hand, maybe if they force themselves to get out and dance, they recover from their depression with greater ease. It's an interesting idea - I'd be interested in reading your article. And dance certainly beats the antidepressant medications and all of their unpleasant side effects.

One more note - there is a difference between having clinical major depression and simply being in a depressed mood. People can feel down like we all do at times, and still not be truly ill. Major depression is a severe psychiatric illness, and if dancers can overcome it by doing what they love - what a tremendous breakthrough that would be for many, many people...

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 Post subject: Re: Can dancing cure depression?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2004 3:06 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 255
Physical exercise, not just dance, has been shown to release endorphins which can elevate mood. In and of itself, it will not cure depression, especially severe depression, but it is helpful in alleviating mild to moderate depression (or simply "the blues" which as has been said is a different thing from true "depression"). Depressed people can get very immobile, literally just wanting to sit and stare into space while thoughts run round and round on the same dismal track. Not only does dance or a fast walk break the cycle, it does have positive physical affects. And dancing, like walking, can be done for exercise by one person. I'm obviously not talking about professional dance! This is important too because a person who is not together enough to be able to participate in a shared activity like playing tennis or basketball may be able to go out for a walk or put on music and dance in his/her living room.


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 Post subject: Re: Can dancing cure depression?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2004 10:57 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I believe there are a number of ways that dance can be helpful mentally as well as physically. Recent research suggests that seniors retain their mental faculties better when they dance and a friend of mine in Germany teaches Seniorentanz, partly subsidised by a health insurance company.

The field of dance therapy remains a small, but interesting part of the sector with movement able to assist those with trauma too great to talk about.

For myself, I find that if I am full of negative energy I can put on a record, boogie around the living room and often switch the negative energy to a positive form, where I can then settle to some work.

Sorry this is all anecdotal - good luck with the research Lyndsey.


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 Post subject: Re: Can dancing cure depression?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 4:14 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 16
Location: Liverpool, England
I've just found this topic.

I used to go to Tai Chi and I found that very therapeutic.

What I was really going to say was that attending a dance performance is also very therapeutic. I've discussed this with a number of friends over the years and we all agree on this (including at least one who would probably have been classed as clinically depressed).


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 Post subject: Re: Can dancing cure depression?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 6:36 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2002 11:01 pm
Posts: 602
Location: Seattle, WA,USA
The direct answer is no, dance wil not "cure" depression ( there is no "cure "for depression at this time ).

A good starting point for your article would be
Kaplan and Saddocs "Synopsis of Psychiatry", chapter 29 - Complimentary and Alernative Medicine in Psychiatry and they do discuss dance therapy in here.

There is very solid statistical evidence that excercise alleviates the symptoms of depression ( type in "meta-analysis exercise depression" in Yahoo and you will find some good high quality articles there ).

Neraly all interventions ( both western medicine/alternative medicine/excercise ) have potential side effects - some minor, some life threatening, but when I personally weigh treatment options I do spend a few minutes considering the "near suicide patients" I have treated with permanent brain damage in the ICU from jumps and missed gun shot wounds and ODs.

Depression is a potentially fatal disease with the suicide risk in patients with the depressive disrders at 15%! 95% of people who attempt or commit suicide have a mental disorder, and 80%of this figure are depressed. 30,000 people a year die of suicide in the US ( 650,000 attempts). Nearly an epidemic.
Men commit suicide four times more often than women, although women are 4 times more likely to try - without being sexist, there are somethings I guess men just do better ;) .
Seriously, getting back to the original topic, depression has no easy answer and is a major health problem which requires very ,very careful assessment and treatment. A mistaken approach can definitely result in a death. For your article, apart from book research, I would also suggest you interview a psychiatrist and perhaps a family member of someone who has comitted suicide to get a better sense of the complexity of the problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Can dancing cure depression?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: New England
In my experience, dancing can be good or bad for your mental health --- or both at once.


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 Post subject: Re: Can dancing cure depression?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 10:14 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: glendora,ca,U.S.A
I am curious for you to elaborate a little more of what you mean Citibob. I for one find that as usefull as the mirror is, it still is a constant reminder that i am not at the physical state that i would like. This is an interesting topic because i am sure that most dancers feel this way. On the flip side if i miss class i feel very slugish.


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 Post subject: Re: Can dancing cure depression?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 6:01 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2003 11:01 pm
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Location: paris
I think that dancing can help if you are 'sort of depressed' I mean, the year before last I was anorexic and clinically depressed, and I never would have wanted to go to a ballet class; I've now been taking ballet for more than a year, and I know that most of the time, I feel good after class ; but it can also be depressing if you compare yourself too much to others ;or else,if you succeed/ or not in doing a step


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 Post subject: Re: Can dancing cure depression?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 8:34 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 2
Location: Paris, France
Hi Lindsey, if you are going to follow-up on this topic, I'd love to help and maybe share my experience. I was trained as a clinical psychologist, I'm an avid (albeit amateur) dancer and a writer, so this is really something I have thought about a lot. A few years ago I became severly depressed and was also diagnosed with severe personality disorders. I spent nearly two years in mental institutions, and underwent some treatments anyone would indeed call barbaric.
Going back to dancing has helped me tremendously, though I think it would have been impossible for me to be helped by dance - or anything - when I was extremely unwell. Dance helped when I was ready to be helped. In other words, I had to make it work - it didn't work all by itself. In terms of personality disorders, I sometimes feel that dancing harms me - I become very critical of my body and my abilities in the studio and occasionally self-mutiliate and cry after class, so I guess it's a mixed blessing... Plus, dancing can be addictive, as any form of exercise can be, so it should be monitored by a psychiatrist if the aspiring dancer is unwell.
One last thing: my dance teacher is an amazing person who is just happy to be alive, full of energy and enthusiasm every single day. He too, makes a world of a difference in my life. Thanks, monsieur Lazzarelli.


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 Post subject: Re: Can dancing cure depression?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 4:47 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1876
Location: New England
Yes, exercise produces endorphins, and those make you feel happy. But I'm sure that the dancer, just like the drug addict, becomes acclimated to those endorphins. In other words, if you dance every day, it loses its "high" (but it's still healthy, I'm not directly comparing dancing to drug addiction).

Dance CLASS is all about BUILDING UP the dancer. This is what most students experience most of the time. And yes, it can make you feel good. Professional dance is all about USING the dancer for the benefit of the audience. You give your whole self away --- and when there's nothing left, you're asked to give still more. It is a difficult (but beneficial) process of soul searching. You often go home from the studio feeling anything BUT good about yourself --- even if you're doing a great job.


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