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Kurt Cobain, frontman of rock band Nirvana, reached into the hearts and minds of millions of people around the world with his intensely raw, vulnerable, sometimes challenging, but realistic lyrics. Chester Bennington, frontman of Linkin Park, also sang openly about his innermost struggles. Though Cobain’s death is often debated, both rock stars committed suicide after public struggles with depression, drug addiction, and alcoholism.

When Bennington passed in 2017, music critics and lovers alike commented on how his struggles with mental health were ‘obvious’ due to the lyrics he used in his songs. Recent research published in Clinical Psychological Science took a deeper analytical look at the relationship between the language people use and the symptoms of depression they may be living with. Using linguistic analysis provided by computer text analysis, researchers were able to create a classification of specific words which can accurately predict if someone is struggling with depression.

ScienceAlert explains that language for this study needs to be considered in two categories: content and style. Content is the meaning behind what we are saying when we are saying it. Obvious words associated with depression included, according to the article, ‘lonely, ‘sad’, ‘miserable’. Additionally, the excessive use of pronouns referring to the self as ‘me’ ‘myself’ or ‘I’ were more common for those with depression. The researchers were able to conclude that the use of first person pronouns are a great identifier of depression than the negative based words.

In terms of style, the research found that people with depression are prone to speaking in absolutist terms like ‘always’ ‘completely’ ‘never’ and ‘nothing’. The researchers analyzed anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and recovery forums to understand the style of language people were using.

How language can help us treat depression

Depression can happen in someone’s life for a variety of reasons. From trauma to grief, hormones to chemical imbalances, life difficulties or hereditary genes, depression can come up at any time of life. Though the conversation on depression is growing, there is still a widespread lack of information regarding the symptoms and subtleties of depression. After learning of someone’s depression, when it isn’t ‘obvious’ we ask ourselves, “how did I miss that?” Language is one of the many ways we can mindfully pay more attention to those around us, tune into what they are saying and how they are saying it with more compassion, as well as empathetically connect with their experiences instead of discounting their description of their lives.

If you believe you or someone you know may be struggling with depression as a result of trauma, help is available. The Guest House Ocala is the premiere private treatment program for trauma, addictions, and related mental health issues. Our concierge style customization ensures that you are treated for each and everyone of your individual needs so that you can recover completely in mind, body, and spirit. For information on our long term residential programs call us today: 1-855-483-7800