Dancing Relieves Depression

Recently a friend shared a very interesting scientific journal regarding some research done with people diagnosed with depression. This article was great scientific research that validates that its not just the music, its not just the movement, but in fact its the combination of both. “The joy dance: Specific effects of a single dance intervention on psychiatric patients with depression” Published by The Arts of Psychotherapy Journal by Sabine C. Koch, PhD, MA, Katharina Morlinghaus, Thomas Fuchs, PhD, MD was an interesting read and served as a great validation for Let’s Dance. 

Let’s Dance encourages dance, not just range of motion. Range of motion is what nurses are required to do with residents in long term care facilities and even people living in wheelchairs. Let’s Dance takes it beyond just ‘range of motion’ to instead inspire dance. With Dance we can help participants to experience a relief in their depression and inspire them to move their bodies, even if they are in a wheelchair. A common response when I approach a participant in Let’s Dance is that they “cannot dance anymore” including the reasons why. The main excuse I get is that they are ‘no longer steady on their feet’ or ‘in a wheelchair’.

Regardless of the reason I get, my answer is always the same. Anyone can dance! Anyone, no matter what. I hold their hands and either gently guide their bodies into a movement that emulates dance. I guide and wait for their brains to remember how to move. Often they do begin to guide their own movement, even if they were disconnected before. In that moment they can move with me. Dance brings something special to them that lifts their hearts. Even those that cannot move are encouraged to at least let their face dance…. a smile has a similar effect. When I suggest making their face dance, I almost always get a smile that leads to me encouraging their face dance. Often if I can get a smile I can get at least a little dance with them, that includes other parts of their body other than their face, when I return for a second chance.

I noticed that when I dance with people we slowly connect. At first we make the connection with our eyes and often our hands. Then we connect to the music and begin to move to the amazing rhythms provided by Bright Hawk and the Hang PANArt. The music in itself is soothing and joyful. As we continue to move we experience a burst in our hearts that spreads around us like wildfire. We offer love and appreciation for each other, then continue to move into a very joyful place. Often I hear things like “I haven’t done that in years!” or “I haven’t felt this good in a long while” and I feel the same way! I am joyful to be sharing the moment with them and the feeling is usually mutual. I am grateful I get to experience it with the entire group, I feel blessed!

When I developed Let’s Dance I was struggling with depression myself. I was constantly looking for ways to relieve my depression in order to heal my own personal wounds. I feel that when I reach for them to dance with me, we heal each other. Bright Hawk has managed to figure out how to dance and play the Hang PANArt, so in that she encourages everyone to dance while I work one on one with people. Those that choose to participate with her find it easy to smile by the end of the hour. Dancing relieves depression for sure. Let’s Dance takes long term care facility residents to slouched, sleeping and checked out to awake, happy, and even joyful!

The article ‘The Joy Dance’ validates everything we have experienced in the last year and half with the Let’s Dance program. Here is a great quote from the discussion part of the article

“Participants in the dance group showed a significant decrease of depression, whereas depression scores did not change for participants of the other two groups. Dance acted thus specifically on depression reduction. Further, participants in the dance group showed a significantly higher increase in vitality than participants in the music group. Vitality and affect increased significantly from pre- to post-test across conditions. Between conditions, there were no significant differences of increase in affect. The biggest pre-/post-test changes were found in the dance group: on a single-item basis, motivation, coping, strength, energy and enjoyment increased, while depression, lifelessness, anxiety, tension and tiredness decreased.”

When I read this I understood that not only had I healed others but I had healed myself. I have sometimes been known to suffer with depression, anxiety, tension and narcoleptic tendencies. All of which have been greatly reduced with many approaches in my personal life as well as experiencing Let’s Dance regularly. When we are healed while inspiring healing in others, we are truly bringing a holistic medicine to the community as a whole. Natural and Holistic Healing are beneficial for communities faced with many struggles. Let’s Dance offers a program for all people that can bring even the facilitators great healing.



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