These new findings could lead to better understanding and treatment.
Pinpointing depression is an extremely difficult thing to do: are you just going through a hard time? How do you tell the difference between anxiety and depression?
But for anyone who has lived with depression, they know that the mental illness impacts every aspect of their life – relationships, career goals, energy levels, appetite, and even the way they communicate.
And now, a new study has quantified how you can potentially determine if you’re depressed simply by analysing your texts, with regular use of words such as ‘always’, ‘nothing’ and ‘completely’ being key indicators.
The study, published in Clinical Psychological Science, examined texts from over 6,400 users on 63 different internet forums, and found that suicide-related forums contained a statistically significant amount more absolutist words compared to the control forums.
Why? They provoke a black-and white understanding of the world, and individuals are able to express themselves using words that denote totality.
While previous studies have also noted that people who suffer from depression are more inclined to use first-person, singular pronouns (e.g. ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘I’, ‘mine’) because they suggest a focus on the self and a disconnection to others, the study’s co-author, Dr Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi, advises that language isn’t a catchall for pinpointing depression.
“It is, of course, possible to use a language associated with depression without actually being depressed.”
It is important to remember that people can use words and express ideas associated with depression without suffering from a mental illness, and while language is a useful tool, depression is determined by how someone feels overtime.
The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 300 million people worldwide are now living with depression, making it the leading cause of disability worldwide. If you or someone you know is struggling with your mental health or needs help, call Lifeline on 131 114, Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. In an emergency, call 000. For a correct treatment plan, book an appointment with your GP.
Mounting scientific evidence seems to suggest that hugs are good for your health. They lower blood pressure which is a risk factor for heart disease. Oxytocin, the chemical released by the brain while hugging, is being investigated as a treatment for various conditions, including depression.