Size Matters: Stature is Related to Diagnoses of Depression in Young Military Men
From SAGE Open
Both short and tall men in the military are more at risk for depression than their uniformed colleagues of average height, this study finds. Despite the researchers’ original hypothesis that shorter men in the military would be more psychologically vulnerable than their taller counterparts, researchers Valery Krupnik and Mariya Cherkasova found that men both shorter and taller than average by one standard deviation may be predisposed to higher rates of depressive disorders.
The researchers studied the records of 196 males that had depression-related diagnoses from a mental health clinic serving active duty personnel. The patients were grouped into three height groups and ranked based on the severity of their depressive disorder. While height was related to the likelihood of having a depressive disorder, it did not correlate with anxiety disorders diagnoses. “To our knowledge, there are no preventive programs specifically targeting shorter or taller boys,” the authors commented. “We believe that such programs implemented in school could be beneficial for them in developing higher resilience to the pressure of low social status based on body height.”
Evolutionary theories suggest that depression has evolved as an adaptation to insurmountable adversity or defeat. One prediction stemming from these models is that individual attributes associated with defeat in a given social environment could be risk factors for depression. We hypothesized that in young military men, where physical prowess was important, short stature might constitute a risk of depression and that this risk would be specific to depression and not to other prevalent mental disorders such as anxiety. A preliminary analysis of the diagnostic profile of a sample of male military personnel treated for mental health indicates that men both shorter and taller than average by 1 standard deviation may be predisposed to higher rates of depressive but not anxiety disorders. Practical and theoretical implications of our findings are discussed.
Size Matters Stature Is Related to Diagnoses of Depression in Young Military Men
Valery Krupnik, Mariya V. Cherkasova
Published online July 23, 2014.