How a Person Uses Language Can Be a Clear Sign of Depression
Nowadays, it’s becoming easier to distinguish the difference between feelings of sadness and clinical depression. With more than 300 million people globally suffering from depression and counting, doctors and researchers are getting better at identifying ways to classify when someone is depressed.
In a recent study done by Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi and Tom Johnstone published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, computerized text analysis was used to identify linguistic content and style patterns in people who are experiencing depression. They were able to recognize the differences in how those with depression speak and those without mental illness do. These are the patterns they found in relation to language and people with depression.
1. They Often Use More First Person Singular Pronouns
This study found that singular pronouns such as ‘me’, ‘myself’, and ‘I’ were often used in their speech far more than second and third person pronouns such as ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’ and ‘them’. The reason is that they tend to focus more on themselves and they’re less connected with the people around them.
2. They Are More Likely to Use Negative Words
This is not entirely surprising but those experiencing depression tend to use negative adjectives such as “miserable” and “lonely” to describe their feelings and to reference everything else around them. Their speech denotes the negative emotions they feel inside of them.
3. They Use ‘Absolutist’ Words or “All or Nothing” Language
What they found is that people with depression use words such as ‘always’, ‘completely’, ‘nothing’ and ‘never’, which tend to be extreme adjectives and adverbs. This points to an all or nothing perspective and that’s reflected in their language. For people who are depressed, small negative thoughts can get blown-up into bigger problems, hence the ‘absolutist’ words.
Other Symptoms of Depression
While this study reveals some enlightening discoveries on the computerized linguistic analysis in relation to depression, it is unfair to solely use these findings to classify a person you know as depressed. Aside from these language indicators found in the study, people who are depressed also experience several of the following (*)
- loss of energy
- a change in appetite
- sleeping more or less
- reduced concentration
- feelings of worthlessness
- thoughts of self-harm or suicide
It’s important to note that people who are depressed experience a combination of these factors along with the conclusions made in the linguistic study. With that said, feelings of sadness are not synonymous with feelings of depression. They vary greatly with the latter being a more extreme case.
Possible Reasons Why You’re Feeling Sad
If you’re experiencing sadness and you’re looking for a way to uplift your mood, check out this article that gives you tips on how to become happier as suggested by neuroscientists and start implementing these changes in your life.
Also, consider that changes in the seasons can affect your mood. Scientific evidence says that length of day, which is shorter in the winter and longest in the summer, is the main reason you experience what’s called seasonal affective disorder. For this reason, people find themselves having less energy, feeling less social, losing interest in favorite their activities, having cravings for carbs and experiencing changes in their sleep patterns. (*)
But seasonality may not be the only reason as to why your moods are low. Your dietary habits and dopamine levels also play a significant role.
A Healthy Diet Contributes to Feelings of Happiness
Fueling your body with the right kind of foods can help increase feelings of happiness. Before you look at the type of foods and nutrition to feed your body, first ensure that you are eating regularly and you’re snacking to keep your blood sugar levels steady. Once you have that covered, it’s important to have protein well-incorporated in your diet, which slows the absorption of carbohydrates and it increases the release of dopamine.
Dopamine is a chemical in your body that stimulates creativity, cognitive function, attention, mood, movement, and sleep. So, if you’re feeling sad, improving your dopamine levels will better your mood. Take a look at these 34 ways to boost dopamine levels in your brain.
Just as important is getting your dose of Vitamin D and B-12, which are helpful when it comes to regulating your mood. Lastly, incorporate fiber into your diet which slows the absorption of sugar and in turn, decreases mood swings. (*)
When you combine a healthy diet with other lifestyle practices that promote a good balance of physiological, mental, and psychological health, your mood will follow and you’ll noticeably feel happier.
But if it seems that what you’re feeling is beyond just the scope of sadness and symptoms of depressions are arising, speak to a doctor as soon as you can and ask for help. This also applies to people you know who fit the profile of being clinically depressed. Encourage them to seek help and not to prolong it.
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