Depressed people considerably use pronouns in first-person singular, such as “me”, “myself”, “me” and much less second and third person. This shows that they are more focused on themselves, and less to others. This is one of the main indicators of this unpleasant situation.
Depression changes everything from interaction with people to expression through speech and writing. Scientists have long tried to determine the relationship between depression and language, and technology has helped them.
Today, language analysis is done using a computer and allows processing large amounts of data in minutes. This can help detect language features that may be unnoticed by the human eye, e.g. the computer calculates the percentage of the frequency of certain words, classifies, studies linguistic diversity, the average sentence length, grammatical patterns, etc.
People suffering from depression use too many words that express negative emotions, especially those like adjectives and stories like “lonely, sad, miserable.” In addition, they use significantly more personal pronouns in the first person singular, such as “me, myself, me.” They considerably less use pronouns in the second and third person. This pattern warns that depressed people are more focused on themselves, and less on the connection with others. Researchers say that pronouns are actually a more reliable indicator of depression than negative emotions. It is known that closing in one’s own problems and social isolation are frequent indicators of depression.
However, it is not very clear whether depression affects people turning to themselves or focusing on themselves leading to depression. The researchers also paid attention to the style of language, the way people express themselves. They studied texts from 64 different forums on topics related to mental health. They processed data from more than 5000 members. absolute words whose amount has increased by about 50% in people suffering from anxiety or depression, and even 80% of people who think about suicide. These are words like “always, nothing, completely”. Words were represented as much as the pronouns of depressed people, while words that express negative emotions were paradoxically less represented in people prone to suicide than in others.