Are you a "me, myself, and I" or a "we and us" kind of person? When you tell stories or talk with people, do you tend to say "I went to the store" and "For me, the experience was…" or are you more likely to say "We went to the place" and "We are planning the event"?
It makes a difference. According to new study results, people who talk about themselves in the "me, myself, and I" way are more likely to be depressed and anxious than people who speak more in a sense of "we and us."
Developing A Healthy Relationship
How can pronoun usage determine whether you will be depressed, though? Apparently saying "me" and "I" indicates interpersonal difficulties, meaning that you have a hard time developing healthy relationships with other people, and you do not operate well in a social group. You can be more needy and not set good boundaries with other people. You may feel that external attention and validation add to your self-worth, and you need the approval or others to make decisions for yourself.
It also seems to indicate that you are attention-seeking and unable to spend much time by youself. It makes sense that self-centered people talk about themselves, and may say the words "me, myself, and I" more often than less self-centered people, but can we jump to the conclusion that all people who use a singluar personal pronoun more than "we" or "us" are depressed or anxious?
What if you really did go to the store by yourself? Are you supposed to tell someone that "we went to the store", or "we had such-and-such experience"? Are "we" supposed to lie in a sense, to sound more inclusive as a "we" than a "me" in an effort to be less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety?
"We" need more information.
The study, conducted at the University of Kassel-Germany, asked 15 men and 103 women about how they viewed themselves, specifically based on their past, their relationships, and overall self-perception. Answers showed that the people who spoke about themselves in the first-person singular pronouns (me, myself and I) were more depressed than the people who used first-person plural pronouns (we, us.)
Depression And Anxiety
Side note: almost all of the 15 men and 103 women participants were being treated for depression and anxiety already at the time of the study. How can those people be used as a gauge? Doesn't it seem like choosing a sample that is diagnosed with depression or anxiety is naturally going to skew the results a bit?
What does this really mean for us? Can symptoms of a mental illness, like depression and anxiety, be detected simply by how people tell stories and report information to others? Can we use style of speech as an indicator, and spot a mental illness early on by using it? Will this information prove helpful in each detection and treatment of depression and anxiety?
"We" will not hold our breath, but let's explore.
Depression is characterized by sadness, loss, anger, frustration, and loneliness associated with the past, and anxiety is essentially worrying about feeling all of those things in the future, so a big part of each is how you process and communicate feelings and events in your life.
If you tend to have experiences with other people but you talk about them from a place of "I felt one way" or "For me, it was hard" and you negate the experience of others that were with you, or going through the same thing, is that when you are more likely to be depression and anxious than if you said "We felt one way" or "For us, it was hard"?
Are You An Island?
It is an interesting thought. If you view yourself as an island, unique and separate from everyone else, how can you have healthy relationships with anyone? Maybe pronouns are indicative of how you view yourself and those around you, and based on what you naturally say, you are not interconnected with the larger "us" and can therefore feel isolated, depressed, or anxious.