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Talking about yourself all the time could be an indicator of depression, not narcissism

According to a new research, if you continually talk about yourself all the time, it could indicate a risk of depression.

fitness Updated: Mar 07, 2018 19:34 IST
Press Trust of India
Depression,I-talk,Narcissism
Researchers found that when people talk a lot about themselves, it could point to depression, but it could just as easily indicate that they are prone to anxiety or any number of other negative emotions.(Shutterstock)

People who talk frequently about themselves may be more prone to emotional distress and depression, rather than being narcissistic, scientists say. Research at other institutions has suggested that I-talk, though not an indicator of narcissism, may be a marker for depression.

Researchers at the University of Arizona (UA) in the US found an even greater connection between high levels of I-talk - or frequent use of first-person singular pronouns - and a psychological disposition of negative emotionality in general.

Negative emotionality refers to a tendency to easily become upset or emotionally distressed, whether that means experiencing depression, anxiety, worry, tension, anger or other negative emotions, said Allison Tackman, research scientist at University of Arizona.

Researchers found that when people talk a lot about themselves, it could point to depression, but it could just as easily indicate that they are prone to anxiety or any number of other negative emotions.

Therefore, I-talk should not be considered a marker for depression alone.

The findings are based on a large dataset of over 4,700 individuals from six labs in two countries - the US and Germany.

The data included measures of individuals’ use of I-talk -either in written or spoken tasks - as well as measures of depression and negative emotionality.

“Previous research had found the one link - between I-talk and depression - but it hadn’t examined moderators in great detail in a large sample. That was the next step,” Tackman said.

“Our results suggest that I-talk may not be very good at assessing depression in particular. It may be better at assessing a proneness not just to depression but to negative emotionality more broadly,” he said.

AN average person speaks about 16,000 words a day, about 1,400 of which are, on average, first-person singular pronouns, said Matthias Mehl, professor at UA.

Those prone to distress may say “I, me and my” up to 2,000 times a day, he said.

“We’ve all gone through negative life events when we’re feeling down or we’re feeling anxious, and 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?’“ Tackman said.

“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,” he said.

“Stress can make you be caught in the metaphorical ‘I’ of the storm,” Mehl said.

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First Published: Mar 07, 2018 19:28 IST