The Role of Positive Emotion and Contributions of Positive Psychology in Depression Treatment: Systematic Review

Veruska Santos1, *, Flavia Paes1, Valeska Pereira1, Oscar Arias-Carrión2, Adriana Cardoso Silva1, Mauro Giovanni Carta6, Antonio Egidio Nardi1, Sergio Machado1, 3, 4, 5
1 Laboratory of Panic and Respiration, Institute of Psychiatry of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (IPUB/UFRJ), Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil; National Institute for Translational Medicine (INCT-TM), Brazil
2 Hospital General Dr. manuel Gea Gonzalez, Secretaria de Salud Mexico DF, Mexico
3 Quiropraxia Program of Faculty of Health Sciences, Central University (UCEN), Santiago, Chile
4 Institute of Philosophy, Federal University of Uberlandia (IFILO/UFU), Minas Gerais, Brazil
5 Physical Activity Neuroscience Laboratory (LABNAF), Physical Activity Sciences Postgraduate Program of Salgado de Oliveira University (PPGCAF/UNIVERSO), Niterói, Brazil
6 Department of Public Health and Clinical and Molecular Medicine, University of Cagliari, Italy

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© Santos et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Laboratory of Panic and Respiration.Institute of Psychiatry – Federal University of Rio de Janeiro – Brazil; Tel: +5521-2521-6147; Fax: +5521-2521-6147; E-mail:


The present study aims to conduct a systematic review of the literature by checking the impact of positive emotion in the treatment of depression and on the use of strategies of positive psychology which involves positive emotion to treat and reduce symptoms of depression. For this purpose, we conducted searches in databases ISI Web of Knowledge, PsycINFO and PubMed and found a total of 3400 studies. After inclusion application and exclusion criteria, 28 articles remained, presented and discussed in this study. The studies have important relations between humor and positive emotion as well as a significant improvement in signs and symptoms of depression using differents strategies of positive psychology. Another relevant aspect is the preventative character of the proposed interventions by positive psychology by the fact that increase well-being and produce elements such as resilience and coping resources that reduce the recurrent relapses in the treatment of depression. The strategies of positive psychology, such as increasing positive emotions, develop personal strengths: seeking direction, meaning and engagement for the day-to-day life of the patients, appear as potentially tools for the prophylaxis and treatment of depression, helping to reduce signs and symptoms as well as for prevention of relapses.

Keywords: : Depression, emotion, positive psychology, resilience.