The Link Between Depression and Self-Focused Language Use
Studies have typically shown that those experiencing higher levels of depression tend to use more first-person singular pronouns (I, me, my) in their everyday written and spoken language; however, these results have been mixed. In this article, researchers combined data from several studies collected by several different labs and examined the depression and self-focused pronoun correlation to resolve inconsistencies of past results.
Although researchers found a significant positive association between depression and self-focused pronouns, this association was significantly weakened when controlling for negative emotionality. In contrast, the positive association between negative emotionality and self-focused pronouns remained strong even after controlling for depression.
The findings have important implications for mental health professionals, as they suggest that self-focused language should not be solely used as an indicator of depression. Instead, it may be more beneficial to consider a person's general psychological distress levels and negative emotionality as well. By doing so, mental health professionals may be better equipped to identify individuals who are struggling with their mental health and provide the appropriate support.
Read the research: Depression, Negative Emotionality, and Self-Referential Language: A Multi-Lab, Multi- Measure, and Multi-Language-Task Research Synthesis