What if you were asked to sort out people who are and not depressed just by reading their words, what would you look out for? This is an easy one, just look for words like “sad,” “angry,” “depressed,” and “hopeless,” right? Spoiler alert: You’d be far from right. You still think you’re right? A new AI analysis study recently determined that the use of pronouns are more likely to be identified with people with depression.
Related media: Coping With Stress, Anxiety And Depression
Over the years, clinical language analyses of depressed and suicidal people relied on the imperfectly human opinion of the researcher. Recent studies have been able to use artificial intelligence to calculate the prevalence of certain words in people with different mental health issues. In addition, most of these research examined the writing of suicidal artists like the Kurt Cobain and Sylvia Plath.
Most people dealing with significant signs of depression and suicidal ideation, there was the certainty of the use of negative emotional words such as “lonely,” “sad,” and “miserable.” But researchers made another class of words that predicted higher suicidal tendencies much more than expected: pronouns.
Me, Myself, And I: We Feel Depressed
In a 2018 study, the researchers focused on the words used by depressed and depressive vulnerability of college students, typically their use of first-person pronouns such as “me,” “myself,” and “I.” The words indicated a major tendency of depression. A similar pattern of words was found in the works of poets who eventually committed suicide as against those who didn’t. This might probably be the cause that’s why depression tends to lead to self-centered thoughts and the feeling of being left behind by others.
These emotions of loneliness might be the signs of seeing more of such first-person pronouns dominating in their implicit texts rather than their explicit words of loneliness. Moreover, there was yet again another class of words that showed up a lot in the implicit text of people with depression: absolutist words. These are words that indicate that a subject is definitively, entirely, or irrevocably a certain way — words such as “always,” “never,” “absolutely,” and “entire,” all in a way or the other revealed strong signs of depressive thoughts better than negative emotion words.
Surely, that makes sense, at least. Absolutist words indicate that nothing can be done to change them. That’s really depressing for a thought. Also, the use of too many first-person pronouns could be a sign that you’re stuck in a quandary, with no ability to view yourself in another perspective. So, if you ever find yourself thinking too extremely, just take a step back, and ask yourself if there’s any other alternative you can choose as to solve your problem, before you do something you can turn back upon.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Tue, Mar 26, 2019.