You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Using this one word a lot could signal mental health issues

Country Living (UK) logo Country Living (UK) 11/03/2018 Francesca Rice

Why using the word 'I' a lot could signal mental health issues © Marjan_Apostolovic / Getty Why using the word 'I' a lot could signal mental health issues If someone talks about themselves constantly, we'd forgive you for assuming they're completely self-obsessed and maybe even a little narcissistic...

But, according to new research, this behaviour might actually signal that they could be suffering from mental health issues.

That's according to research published this week in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which claims that people who use the word 'I' excessively could be more prone to mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.

A team from the University of Arizona concluded this after measuring levels of so-called 'I-talk' as well as indicators of negative emotions in written and verbal tasks completed by almost 5,000 people in the US and Germany.

The researchers found strong links between I-talk and a propensity for negative emotionality, which means someone who is easily upset or may experience tension, anger, depression or anxiety.

The team defined participants as 'I-talkers' if they used the first person pronouns 'I' and 'me' more than 2,000 times a day, noting that 1,400 times is the average.

Explaining why I-talk could be linked to psychological distress, lead author Allison Tackman revealed that it's often the case that people speak in this way when they are focusing on negative life experiences.

"When you think back to being in those places, when you're just so focused on yourself, you may say things like, 'Why can't I get better?'" she said.

© Provided by Shutterstock "You're so focused on yourself that not only in your head are you using these first-person singular pronouns but when you're talking to other people or writing, it spills into your language, the self-focus that negative affectivity brings about."

That said, the team was keen to emphasise that I-talk alone should not be considered an indicator of depression.

"It may be better at assessing a proneness not just to depression but to negative emotionality more broadly," said Tackman.

The context is also key: the correlation between I-talk and negative emotionality was only seen when participants were talking about a personal experience, such as a break-up.

"If you are speaking in a personal context – so you're speaking about something that's of relevance to you, like a recent breakup – then we see the relationship between I-talk and negative emotionality emerge," she added.

"But if you're communicating in a context that's more impersonal, such as describing a picture, we did not see the relationship emerge."

If you are concerned you or someone close to you may have depression, speak to your GP or visit the mental health charity Mind's website.

[h/t The Independent]

Related: Foods that help combat stress, anxiety and depression (Provided by StarsInsider)

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Country Living (UK)

Country Living (UK)
Country Living (UK)
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon