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If you often say “me”, “myself” and “I”, your emotional wellness is more likely to be affected by depression and anxiety. This is according to new research from scientists at the University of Kassel, Germany, who found that the people who use first-person singular pronouns the most are more likely to be depressed than those who tend to use plural pronouns, such as ‘we’.
Led by Dr Johannes Zimmerman, the researchers interviewed 15 men and 103 women, most of whom were being treated for conditions such as depression and anxiety disorder. Participants were asked about their past, their relationships, and their self-perception, and those who said ‘me’ and ‘I’ tended to be more depressed. The researchers also found that these personal pronoun purveyors also had more difficulties with interpersonal behaviour such as interacting in a group of people, being more likely to attention-seek and be unable to spend time alone.
However, the participants who used words like ‘we’ frequently were better able to maintain appropriate social boundaries in their relationships and still have a healthy social life. According to Dr Zimmerman, ‘Using first-person singular pronouns highlights the self as a distinct entity whereas, using first-person plural pronouns emphasise [being part of] social relationships.’ He believes, as a result of his findings, that people who use the singular pronouns tend to be needier. He added that those who tend to use the word ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ in conversation are better at maintaining relationships.
However, if you can’t kick that personal pronoun habit then don’t worry; other recent research has proven that people who suffer from depression and anxiety can benefit from forced exercise. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder discovered that regular exercise is beneficial to people with depression, as the feeling of self-control that exercise brings is also good for mental health.
As depression doesn’t exactly make you feel like getting proactive and exercising, the researchers examined whether forced exercise has the same benefits as voluntary exercise, or whether the loss of control makes the activity less beneficial. The scientists performed experiments on lab rats to that effect, concluding that forced exercise is just as beneficial to depression sufferers as unforced.