Yoram Yasur Agi: The language of depression
Depression changes everything, from the way we move to our dream and, of course, the way we interact with those around us. In fact, it is also expressed in our language. The “language of depression” can be seen in the poetry of Sylvia Plath and the songs of Kurt Cobain, who committed suicide after a series of serious depressive pictures.
Yoram Yasur Agi: Psychologists have long deepened in the “language of depression.” Now a study done at the University of Reading offers new clues about the words that can help us detect that a person suffers from depression.
Traditionally, this type of linguistic analysis has been carried out by researchers, who read and take notes of the words that prevail in depressive states. At present, computerized methods of text analysis allow processing that information with greater reliability, revealing details that may go unnoticed by researchers.
The content of depression:
Yoram Yasur Agi: The language can be separated into two components: content and style. The content is related to what we express, that is, the meaning of the discourse. Therefore, it is not surprising that people suffering from depression use an excessive amount of words that convey negative emotions, specifically adjectives and adverbs such as “lonely”, “sad” or “miserable”.
However, the use they make of pronouns is even more interesting. Depressed people use more pronouns in the first person of the singular, such as “I” and “me”. In contrast, they use few second and third person pronouns, such as “they” or “you”.
This pattern in the use of pronouns suggests that people with depression are overly focused on themselves and very little connected with others. In other words, these people experience great loneliness and are immersed in their thoughts. In fact, researchers say that pronouns are more reliable for identifying depression than words that express negative emotions.
The style of depressive language:
Yoram Yasur Agi: The style of language is related to the way we express ourselves. Analyzing the data of more than 6,400 people who wrote in mental health forums, psychologists have appreciated that people with depression often use “absolutist words”, which transmit absolute magnitudes or probabilities, such as “always”, “nothing” or “completely” ”
Yoram Yasur Agi: The presence of this type of words in everyday speech reflects a black and white view of the world. In fact, the use of the absolutist words is triggered in those who already have suicidal ideation, which is not strange since in the past it was found that absolutist or dichotomous thinking is at the base of many cognitive distortions and irrational beliefs that they end up triggering affective disorders. This indicates that many times the person with depression does not find alternatives since the disorder itself prevents him from thinking in broader terms.