A staggering one in four people will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Even if you are lucky enough not to suffer, it’s inevitable that at least a few people your life will, and that’s why it’s so important that we destigmatize this prevalent issue.
Unlike with physical illnesses, those who have a mental health problem are often made to feel even worse when it affects their day-to-day life, which leads to a vicious cycle that can cause their condition to worsen and, on occasion, prevent them from seeking out help.
While mental illness can take a myriad of forms, for many people, it manifests itself as depression, which will affect one in 12 at some point. This terrible ailment is characterized by intense feelings of hopelessness that can last for months, if not, years at a time.
Because depression alters a person’s mood significantly, it affects every single aspect of their life – from their appetite to how well they are sleeping at night. However, if you are astute to its effects, you could potentially help yourself or even a loved one escape from its claws.
Measuring how depression affects a person’s language is something which scientists have tried to measure for a long time now. At its worst, depression can cause people to take their own lives.
But if the signs are better known, timely intervention can be taken. The new study, which was published in Clinical Psychological Science, revealed that there are certain words which can be used to accurately predict whether or not a person has depression.
This discovery was made possible by technological advancements which can analyze large banks of words. Previously, when analyzing a person’s use of language, scientists had to rely on making handwritten notes, which took a lot longer to obtain any useful findings.
Scientists didn’t just make their findings from analyzing people’s recorded speech, they also took into consideration the work of famous artists like Sylvia Plath and Kurt Cobain, both of whom famously battled with depression and took their lives because of it, as well as the diaries and writings of others with depression. All of this combined led scientists to conclude that there were clear differences between the way people with and without depression use language. They did this by analyzing two main linguistic components: style and content – that is, what words a person uses and how they use them.
Unsurprisingly, people with depression tended to use a lot more negative adjectives and adverbs like “lonely”, “sad.
However, a more subtle indication of depression was found in a person’s use of pronouns. Those with the illness tended to use a lot more singular pronouns like “me”, “myself” and “I” than those without depression. Because depression can isolate people, this reflects how difficult those with the illness find it to relate to other people in their lives.
People with depression also use a different style of language too. Scientists discovered that those with depression tend to use absolutist words like “completely” and “always” more often, showing that they tend to have a more black and white view of the world.
According to the World Health Organisation, 300 million people in the world have depression – an increase in 18% since 2005. That’s why it’s so important that scientists continue to research this condition so that no one else loses their life as a result of it.
If you know anyone suffering from Depression please help them by contacting your nearest Health Centre