It is imperative to note that depression is a real thing. It is not a ‘problem’ that can be cured by ‘trying to be happy’. It requires real medical care, and takes a long period of time. After that, the trauma still remains behind. But, sometimes, people are lax about people with depression, and do not know if they are depressed or not. Also, it gives rise to a whole host of problems, for one wrong word, would destroy someone’s life.
But how do we know? This requires linguistics. The French linguist Ferdinand Saussure, who brought out the entire theory of how words change under different circumstances, and the meaning conveyed is always different, didn’t think that his theory could be applied to decipher depression, but it is useful.
The words a depressed person utters, is significantly different from a person who isn’t. Close observation has brought out several factors, which can be used to identify someone with depression. Remember, that this are just guidelines, and may not come out on top every single time, yet, these can go a long way. Some knowledge of linguistics is also necessary, which psychologists and counsellors, are usually masters of.
- What they say
A depressed person has a vocabulary which is different from a normal person’s. The sentence formation is different, the syntax is different. They use a lot of words that convey negative emotions, rather than positive implications. Words like “Sad”, “lonely”, “isolation”, et al, are used by them frequently. They seem to base their lives around words that are dark, and gloomy.
Also, it is interesting to note that, depressed people usually use a lot of personal pronouns, rather than second or third person pronouns, for it shows how much they focus on themselves. They do not know, how important it is, but any trained linguist would understand that they have problems, for they always seem to be introspecting, and never concerned about someone else.
- How they say
The world has a lot of colours in its palette, yet a depressed person would only see the world as shades of black and white. People are either angels, or devils to them, and do not want to believe that a good person could have something bad in them, and vice versa. Also, they use words that represent absolutes, like ‘complete’, ‘perfect’, words that have a lower frequency of doubts in them.
This can also be seen with the usage of social media as a forum. People, who were depressed, but aren’t anymore, upload inspirational stuff on these sites, which reverberate around their thinking. They use words which are negative, and use them frequently.
- How can it be diagnosed
The language of the depressed can be understood, and diagnosed, if they are realised before it is too late. This is where science comes into play, for several innovations, like Text-to-Speech analysis can help with people whose speech illustrate their identity. Also, AI has started coming up strongly, and it is hoped that it would start understanding complex algorithms, that determine several character traits in someone, which would go a long way towards understanding what they want, or rather, what they think. Already, the machines which are working in esteemed mental health centres, have outperformed human brain. Yet, there is still progress which is expected.
In the end, it is always one’s own mentality and mindset, which is required to cure one of depression, and identify it. Think positive, think optimistic, and see the world as a myriad of colors, all making it more beautiful. Yet, help, in any form, should never be neglected.