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AbstractAcross the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry, dance—broadly and heterogeneously defined across cultures and movement styles—has been investigated for a range of potential benefits in healthy and clinical populations. There is a growing body of literature investigating the potential for dance, and in particular social forms of dance, to have a positive impact on mental health and well‐being. Given widespread availability through community providers, social dance and movement could be an accessible, non‐invasive, and affordable approach to the prevention and treatment of mood disorders, including depression. However, the existing literature is heterogenous, and there is a lack of methodological cohesiveness and systematization in the field of dance for mental health research. In this narrative review, we propose a novel classification system for social dance mental health research, which encompasses solo dance, partner dance, group dance, dance movement therapy, and cooperative movement. We review the existing literature examining the effects of social dance and movement in the context of low mood and depression and identify future research directions for building a solid evidence base for the application of social dance and movement in the prevention and treatment of mood disorders.

Original publication




Journal article


Mental Health Science



Publication Date