Technology and language help identify depression — study
New, technology-based research shows that those suffering from depression use language differently and that words and expressions can help identify whether someone is depressed.
It is well known that those with depression use words conveying negative emotions such as “lonely,” “sad” and “miserable” as well as significantly more first person singular nouns such as “me”, “myself” and “I”.
But, a new US study using computerized text analysis of over 6 400 members on 64 online mental health forums showed increased use of ”absolutist” words such as “always“, “nothing” or “completely” – indicating a more black and white view of the world. These were better markers for depression, researchers noted, and were 50% more prevalent in anxiety and depression forums and about 80% greater in suicidal ideation forums.
The study indicates that technology can outperform trained therapists in helping to identify the language of depression as well as other mental health problems such as perfectionism, self-esteem problems and social anxiety.
Meanwhile, latest statistics on depression show that:
- Over 300 million people globally are living with depression.
- About 74% of South African workers experience loss of productivity due to depression.
- Depression costs SA more than R232bn or 5.7% of the country’s GDP in lost productivity.
- One in five US students are depressed while in SA, one in 10 teen deaths are suicide related and one in four have attempted suicide.
- In SA there are about 460 attempted suicides every 24 hours – higher than many other African countries.
- About 75% of those with mental illness in SA do not get treatment.
Health expert Vanessa Ascencao said depression cuts across racial and class distinctions and common signs are
a loss of interest in life, constant sadness, irritability, eating too little or unhealthily, lethargy, sleeping too much, constant worry, missing school or work and underperformance.
She said depression is treatable with various modalities, including lifestyle interventions and a host of natural support such as curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice, turmeric, renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties and which supports healthy mood and counters depression.
Studies show that the special curcumin formulation, BCM-95, in the food supplements Bio-Curcumin and Felix Advanced, specifically targets depression and anxiety by promoting neuro-genesis (the generation of new brain neurons), increasing feel-good compounds serotonin and dopamine and promoting anti-stress chemical norepinephrine – while at the same time inhibiting inflammation which underlies most disease.
Studies have confirmed the positive effects of BCM-95 in treating Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and have found that curcumin’s effectiveness is similar to that of a standard anti-depressant medication, without the side effects and with added health benefits.
Bio-Curcumin and Felix Advanced are available nationally at leading health stores, pharmacies and Dis-Chem.