People with depression use language differently – here’s how to spot it

 Article Image
Actor Robin Williams appears onstage during MTV’s Total Request Live at the MTV Times Square Studios on April 27, 2006 in New York City.

From the way you move and sleep, to how you interact with people around you, depression changes just about everything. It is even noticeable in the way you speak and express yourself in writing. Sometimes this “language of depression” can have a powerful effect on others. Just consider the impact of the poetry and song lyrics of Sylvia Plath and Kurt Cobain, who both killed themselves after suffering from depression.

Scientists have long tried to pin down the exact relationship between depression and language, and technology is helping us get closer to a full picture. Our new study, published in Clinical Psychological Science, has now unveiled a class of words that can help accurately predict whether someone is suffering from depression.

Traditionally, linguistic analyses in this field have been carried out by researchers reading and taking notes. Nowadays, computerised text analysis methods allow the processing of extremely large data banks in minutes. This can help spot linguistic features which humans may miss, calculating the percentage prevalence of words and classes of words, lexical diversity, average sentence length, grammatical patterns and many other metrics.

So far, personal essays and diary entries by depressed people have been useful, as has the work of well-known artists such as Cobain and Plath. For the spoken word, snippets of natural language of people with depression have also provided insight. Taken together, the findings from such research reveal clear and consistent differences in language between those with and without symptoms of depression.


Language can be separated into two components: content and style. The content relates to what we express – that is, the meaning or subject matter of statements. It will surprise no one to learn that those with symptoms of depression use an excessive amount of words conveying negative emotions, specifically negative adjectives and adverbs – such as “lonely”, “sad” or “miserable”.

More interesting is the use of pronouns. Those with symptoms of depression use significantly more first person singular pronouns – such as “me”, “myself” and “I” – and significantly fewer second and third person pronouns – such as “they”, “them” or “she”. This pattern of pronoun use suggests people with depression are more focused on themselves, and less connected with others. Researchers have reported that pronouns are actually more reliable in identifying depression than negative emotion words.

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Kurt Cobain’s song lyrics were loved by many.

We know that rumination (dwelling on personal problems) and social isolation are common features of depression. However, we don’t know whether these findings reflect differences in attention or thinking style. Does depression cause people to focus on themselves, or do people who focus on themselves get symptoms of depression?


The style of language relates to how we express ourselves, rather than the content we express. Our lab recently conducted a big data text analysis of 64 different online mental health forums, examining over 6,400 members. “Absolutist words” – which convey absolute magnitudes or probabilities, such as “always”, “nothing” or “completely” – were found to be better markers for mental health forums than either pronouns or negative emotion words.

From the outset, we predicted that those with depression will have a more black and white view of the world, and that this would manifest in their style of language. Compared to 19 different control forums (for example, Mumsnet and StudentRoom), the prevalence of absolutist words is approximately 50% greater in anxiety and depression forums, and approximately 80% greater for suicidal ideation forums.

Pronouns produced a similar distributional pattern as absolutist words across the forums, but the effect was smaller. By contrast, negative emotion words were paradoxically less prevalent in suicidal ideation forums than in anxiety and depression forums.

Our research also included recovery forums, where members who feel they have recovered from a depressive episode write positive and encouraging posts about their recovery. Here we found that negative emotion words were used at comparable levels to control forums, while positive emotion words were elevated by approximately 70%. Nevertheless, the prevalence of absolutist words remained significantly greater than that of controls, but slightly lower than in anxiety and depression forums.

Crucially, those who have previously had depressive symptoms are more likely to have them again. Therefore, their greater tendency for absolutist thinking, even when there are currently no symptoms of depression, is a sign that it may play a role in causing depressive episodes. The same effect is seen in use of pronouns, but not for negative emotion words.

Practical implications

Understanding the language of depression can help us understand the way those with symptoms of depression think, but it also has practical implications. Researchers are combining automated text analysis with machine learning (computers that can learn from experience without being programmed) to classify a variety of mental health conditions from natural language text samples such as blog posts.

Such classification is already outperforming that made by trained therapists. Importantly, machine learning classification will only improve as more data is provided and more sophisticated algorithms are developed. This goes beyond looking at the broad patterns of absolutism, negativity and pronouns already discussed. Work has begun on using computers to accurately identify increasingly specific subcategories of mental health problems – such as perfectionism, self-esteem problems and social anxiety.

That said, it is of course possible to use a language associated with depression without actually being depressed. Ultimately, it is how you feel over time that determines whether you are suffering. But as the World Health Organisation estimates that more than 300m people worldwide are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% since 2005, having more tools available to spot the condition is certainly important to improve health and prevent tragic suicides such as those of Plath and Cobain.

Recent Study Confirms That Antidepressants Increase Suicide Risk

Robin Williams, Chris Cornell, and Chester Bennington all revealed details of their struggles with depression and anxiety before they made the tragic decisions to end their lives. You’re probably not surprised that people diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, such as depression or anxiety, have an increased risk of suicide; in fact, a recent study estimates that 80% of people who attempt suicide have a psychiatric diagnosis associated with suicidal ideation. The startling news comes from the science that supports the causal role of antidepressants in the actual completion of suicide.

If depression leads to suicide and antidepressants like SSRIs resolve depression, we could decrease suicide rates by increasing the number of antidepressant prescriptions, right? That’s the pharmaceutical argument for medicating people who are “at risk”.

Yet, the evidence reveals some inconvenient truths, demonstrating that antidepressants actually increase the risk of suicide. Furthermore, just as the serotonin model of depression has never been scientifically validated, there is no evidence that antidepressants meaningfully and statistically significantly resolve depression – but, instead, we are confronting a growing signal of harm, including live-streamed suicides and school shootings committed by those recently prescribed. And a new study from Sweden that examines antidepressants in the context of suicide suggests that antidepressants are pushing people towards, not away from, suicide.

Swedish researchers analyzed data in a timespan in which antidepressant prescriptions rose steadily; the percentage of young women who were prescribed antidepressants increased from 1.4% to 5%. Approximately 500 young women committed suicide during this time period, and because toxicological analyses were performed postmortem, researchers could determine if these women were on antidepressants at the time that they made the decision to end their lives.

From 1999 to 2013, antidepressant prescriptions increased 270%. In 2013, about 5% of Swedish young women (36,141) were prescribed antidepressants.

If antidepressants indeed resolve depression and prevent suicide, those who committed suicide, would be the unmedicated ones right? Also, suicide rates would decrease as antidepressant prescriptions increased.

Yet, researchers found the opposite. As antidepressant prescriptions increased 270% over 15 years, suicide rates also increased. Strikingly, more than half of the young women who committed suicide (52%) were prescribed antidepressants within a year of committing suicide. And antidepressants were detected in 41% of the women who committed suicide, showing that they were under the influence of antidepressants at the time of death. In the remaining subjects, it is also important to know whether they had recently discontinued psychotropic medication. As many who have done so would tell you, abrupt (or sometimes even cautious) tapering of medication can lead to suicidality and homicidality with associated impulsivity (long after the medication itself is undetectable).

We are a culture that believes that force is necessary for change and progress (rather than natural momentum and emergent processes). But maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when we learn that throwing more of the same failed medicine at the very problem created by the failed medicine – well, it doesn’t actually work. Herein lies the thinly-veiled agenda of the industry – use the shortcomings of the intervention (in this case, continued and worsened depressive symptoms) to justify further interventions (more medications for all). This is like calling for more and more barricades to cover up any visual evidence of a forest fire while the fire blazes behind the facade. What is needed, at the first sign of risk outweighing benefit, is true informed consent – and thankfully, each and every prospective patient can now be empowered with a fuller version of the truth than they might receive from media, the government, or their prescribing doctor.

7 Things People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder Wish Others Would Stop Saying

When Robin Williams Comforted Me in the Airport After My Husband’s Suicide

Target to Host Quiet Holiday Shopping Event for Those on the Autism Spectrum

It’s Never ‘Just a Migraine’

i can't keep calm because i have anxiety memeGeneralized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive, persistent and unrealistic worry, and caused by genetic factors, brain chemistry and personality. In fact, 40 million people in the United States are affected by an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. As someone with GAD, here are 7 things I’d like to ask you to stop saying.

1. “Stop thinking about it.” Don’t you think if it was that easy I would not think about it? It maybe easy for you, but as a person with GAD I have to practice the coping strategies I’ve learned in therapy. And sometimes I can’t even do that. So telling me to not worry simply does not cut it.

Instead, try asking me to go for a walk or if there is anything you can do to help me process what is happening.

2. “Everyone feels anxious.” Yes, everyone feels anxious, and it is completely natural. Anxiety actually pushes us to get things done, but when your anxiety stops you from being able to function, guess what? That’s a problem. So please do not compare GADers (yes, I created this word) with non-GADers (this word too).

Instead, acknowledge what I’m going through. Say, “I see this is really hard for you. Would you like to talk about it?”

3. “I’m stressed too.” Not to discredit your stress, but you are certainly discrediting ours. What you do not understand is that we have a hard time controlling our thoughts, and whether you realize it or not, no matter how small it may seem to you, our anxiety tends to maximize everything.

Instead, try offering some words of encouragement.

4. “I know how you feel.” Unless you have GAD you do not know how I feel, so please stop saying that you do.

Instead, say, “I don’t understand exactly how you feel, but would you be willing to help me understand?”

5. “You need to calm down.” When people suffer from GAD, there are times when his/her anxiety is through the roof and it takes me time to calm down. It is always a three-ring circus going on in our heads. That advice is like telling someone who is sick to stop coughing. So no, we cannot calm down right now.

Instead say, “Is there anything I can do to help you?”

6. “You are doing too much.” (Translation: “You are being dramatic.”) Thank you for your words of comfort. We know our thoughts can be irrational at times, but that is how our brain works. Can you imagine 1,000 tabs on your computer are opened, and you cannot stop new tabs from opening? Well, that is how we feel. Just because our disorder is invisible does not mean it is not real.

Instead, ask me about what methods I use to ease anxiety (like breathing methods and yoga), and remind me what’s worked in the past.

7. “You worry too much.” Yes, we worry too much and we know that, but if you have not figured it out by now, we cannot control it. Telling us we worry too much does not help. We were already worrying about 50 things prior to this unnecessary statement, and now we are worrying about worrying.

Instead, say, “It’s OK to feel this way. I know your anxiety can be difficult, but I’m here for you.”  

Why so few people are snorting white powder for fun

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 “COCAINE”, said Robin Williams, a comedian who was rueful about addiction, “is God’s way of saying that you’re making too much money.” No longer. The total amount of pure cocaine consumed by Americans fell by half between 2006 and 2010, and there is nothing to suggest the trend has changed since. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says the supply of coke is stable. Cocaine-related deaths fell by 34% between 2006 and 2013.Credit for this decline must go to policing and changing fashion. In the 1970s and early 1980s, cocaine users were either well-off or had disposable income to waste. By the mid-1980s most cocaine was being smoked as crack by poorer Americans. Sentencing laws changed and incarceration rates, especially for young black men, began to soar. One 1986 study showed that in Manhattan 78% of those who agreed to be tested after an arrest for a serious crime tested positive for cocaine. In 1985 there were nearly 6m cocaine-users, according to the University of Michigan’s national household survey on drug use.

Beau Kilmer, who has pondered the “cocaine nosedive” for RAND, a think-tank, thinks some of the decline is due to supply-side changes. Cocaine’s slump began shortly after thousands of acres of coca were eradicated in Colombia. Large quantities of cocaine were seized there and in the rest of Central America from 2006 onwards. Around the same time, local criminal organisations became interested in illegal gold mining and were weakened, both by internal fighting and by government crackdowns. Mr Kilmer adds that increased demand outside the United States may also have played a role. Cocaine costs more in Europe than in America.

Yet part of the explanation lies in changing fashion. The University of Michigan’s survey reports that young people are less inclined to try cocaine than was once the case. Cigarette companies used to observe that nobody liked to smoke the same brand as their parents. The same may be true of drugs. Would-be cocaine-users have turned to other substances. Methamphetamine is one, but a striking variety of synthetic drugs are now available. “I went to see a dealer the other day in Manhattan and the guy had an astounding array of things,” says Ric Curtis, an anthropologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Although cocaine is still very much on the DEA’s radar, says Russel Baer of the agency, it is not the threat it once was. Heroin, methamphetamine, opioid and synthetic consumption, meanwhile, are all going up.

Google’s Top Searches of 2014

Americans looked to Google for information on Ebola, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the actor Robin Williams’s suicide this year—all of which ranked among the hottest search terms of 2014. Google has announced the results of its “14th Annual Year in Search,” an inventory of the year’s most-searched-for keywords and phrases. The data gives us a chance to look back and relive some of the major events of 2014, many of them in science (see Scientific American’s list of the top 10 science stories of the year).

The searches that rank highest are those that have gained the most ground when compared with searches during a similar time period last year. In that sense, the results show not only what the world is looking to the Internet to find—but also subjects that were truly trending in 2014 after receiving little attention in 2013. Google captures 68 percent of Internet searches from desktops worldwide, according to NetMarketShare.

In this year’s results the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge comes in at number 6 among the top U.S. searches—representing the nation’s zeal for dumping cold water over our heads all summer to raise money for the ALS Association for research on treatments for the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). The phrase “What is ALS?” also ranked as number 2 among the top 10 most-searched questions starting with the phrase “What is…?”

“What is Ebola?” was the most searched phrase in that category, and Ebola was also the number 3 top search term overall in the U.S. “Ebola symptoms” also ranked first in a list of symptom-related searches—beating out pregnancy and the flu, in a country where true Ebola symptoms were detected far less frequently than either of the other two.

Hurricane Arthur, which hit the coast of North Carolina in mid-summer, was this year’s most searched natural event—whereas California’s drought didn’t even make the list, perhaps because it has been ongoing since 2011 (and so did not show the required spike in traffic). Arthur was followed by the magnitude 8.2 Chilean earthquake in April and the magnitude 6.0 tremblor that struck northern Californiain August.

In technology a Google Doodle commemorating the Philae Lander, a robotic probelaunched by the European Space Agency to land on and explore a comet, was the ninth-most popular doodle of the year in the U.S. and the Flappy Bird game was the fifth-most popular search term of all, ranking higher than either the ISIS terrorist army invasion in the Middle East or the events in Ferguson, Mo.

It also seems that if you want to be remembered, it pays to be in show business—all of the people whose deaths landed them in the top 10 list for most-searched-for losses were actors and actresses at some point in their careers, including the notable poet, singer and actress Maya Angelou who passed away on May 28.

As past coverage at Scientific American has shown, the most popular Google searches have many correlates both proposed and proved—a boost in searches on business and politics foretells a dive in the stock market, strange weather prompts people to search for climate change in a pattern that predicts their political affiliation, and a spike insearches for flu medicine could someday help us to see when and where the flu is actually striking.

Below is a selection of this year’s U.S. trends. If you spot any other science-related trends in Google’s master list, please note them as a comment.

Trending Searches

1.         Robin Williams
2.         World Cup
3.         Ebola
4.         Malaysia Airlines
5.         Flappy Bird
6.         ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
7.         ISIS
8.         Ferguson
9.         Frozen
10.       Ukraine

Trending Natural Events

1.         Hurricane Arthur
2.         Chile Earthquake
3.         Napa Earthquake
4.         Hurricane Iselle
5.         Oso Mudslide
6.         Hurricane Odile
7.         Arkansas Tornado
8.         Hurricane Julio
9.         Alaska Earthquake
10.       Hurricane Ana

Trending Symptoms

1.         Ebola
2.         Flu
3.         Pregnancy
4.         Asperger’s syndrome
5.         ALS
6.         Lupus
7.         Diabetes
8.         Lyme Disease
9.         Typhus
10.       Respiratory virus

Trending Searches for “How to…”

1.         Airdrop
2.         Contour
3.         Vote
4.         Kiss
5.         Craft
6.         Colorblock
7.         Wakeboard
8.         Refurbish
9.         Delegate
10.       DIY

Trending Searches for “What is… ”

1.         Ebola?
2.         ALS?
3.         ISIS?
4.         Bitcoin?
5.         Asphyxia?
6.         Gamergate?
7.         WhatsApp?
8.         MERS?
9.         Hamas?
10.       Airdrop?

Top Dog Questions

1.         Why do dogs eat grass?
2.         Do dogs dream?
3.         Why do dogs howl?
4.         Why do dogs have whiskers?
5.         Why do dogs chase their tails?
6.         How to clean dogs ears
7.         Why are dogs noses wet?
8.         How to stop dogs from digging
9.         How to introduce dogs
10.       Why do dogs bury bones?

Trending Google Doodles of 2014

1.         U.S. Valentine’s Day 2014
2.         World Cup 2014 #27 (Boss)
3.         2014 Winter Olympics
4.         Rubik’s Cube
5.         Doodle 4 Google 2014 U.S. Winner
6.         Nelson Mandela
7.         John Steinbeck
8.         Audrey Hepburn
9.         Philae Robotic Lander
10.       International Women’s Day 2014

Trending Selfies

1.         Selfie Olympics
2.         Monkey
3.         Oscar
4.         Obama
5.         Squirrel
6.         David Ortiz
7.         Zach Mettenberger
8.         Colin Powell
9.         Elephant
10.       Shark

Top/Trending Books

1.         Boy, Snow, Bird
2.         Blood Will Out
3.         Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
4.         City of Heavenly Fire
5.         Flash Boys
6.         The Invention of Wings
7.         All the Light We Cannot See
8.         Words of Radiance
9.         Yes Please
10.       Capital in the Twenty First Century

Trending People
not including deaths

1.         Jennifer Lawrence
2.         Kim Kardashian
3.         Tracy Morgan
4.         Ray Rice
5.         Tony Stewart
6.         Iggy Azalea
7.         Donald Sterling
8.         Adrian Peterson
9.         Renée Zellweger
10.       Jared Leto

Trending Deaths

1.         Robin Williams
2.         Joan Rivers
3.         Philip Seymour Hoffman
4.         Maya Angelou
5.         Jan Hooks
6.         Harold Ramis
7.         Shirley Temple
8.         Lauren Bacall
9.         Mickey Rooney
10.       James Avery

Did psychiatric drugs play a role in Robin Williams’ death?

Now that the shock fallout from comedian and actor Robin Williams’ untimely suicide is beginning to settle, questions about why Williams chose to end his life so suddenly are starting to emerge. Dr. Gary Kohls, a family physician and mental health specialist, and others have already begun discussing the role that psychiatric drugs may have played in driving Williams to the brink, which they also appear to have done in previous high-profile suicide and mass murder cases.


Dr. Kohls says an inquest is needed to determine the true etiology of Williams’ suicide, as a simple autopsy isn’t enough to assess how the cocktail of psychiatric medications given to Williams during his time at the Hazelden mental health facility in Minnesota affected his brain. Though the mainstream media has remained largely silent on the issue, Williams was pumped up with drugs just weeks before his suicide that caused him to lose weight, withdraw from loved ones and sleep for up to 20 hours a day.

In other words, Williams was obviously not in his right mind when, seemingly out of nowhere, he decided to permanently withdraw from humanity. Dr. Kohls says Williams’ behavior leading up to his suicide is characteristic of drug-induced psychosis, and that more needs to be done to assess what drugs Williams was given while at Hazelden, and how these drugs may have exacerbated what was already a major problem with Williams’ brain chemistry.

“Knowing that Williams had been under the care of psychiatrists for the last six weeks of his life, certain taboo questions need to be asked and answered,” wrote Dr. Kohls in a recent article about the dangers of combining psychiatric drugs and administering them to patients without informed consent. “There will be no answers unless we get them in the secret details of what happened at Hazelden, including what brain-altering drugs [Williams] was on.”

Psych drugs admittedly increase risk of suicide, so why aren’t psych drug dealers held accountable?

The biggest questions on Dr. Kohls’ mind are what drugs was Williams given while at Hazelden, and why isn’t anyone investigating how these drugs may have influenced Williams’ behavior? All of the focus seems to be on Williams’ pre-existing mental health problems dating back decades. But the suddenness with which Williams took his life, just weeks after receiving an unknown combination of mind-altering medications, is being ignored.

Robin Williams ended his life shortly after being prescribed a cocktail of unproven drugs that had never been certified by the FDA as either safe or effective,” wrote Dr. Kohls. “What the Robin Williams’ case needs, especially in view of the American epidemic of prescription psychiatric drug deaths and suicides (tens of thousands every year), is an unbiased judicial inquest to determine the real root causes of his [sudden] and only partially explained death.”

Despite the fact that every single psychiatric medication in the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class bears a black box warning indicating that it doubles the risk of suicide, the corporate media seems content with ignoring the implications of this in the Williams case. Perhaps this is to protect the drug-pushers dispensing these psychotropics in the first place, not to mention the corporations that manufacture them.

“We want to know the names of the ingredients in the cocktail of drugs that had been tried on him (and the dosages and length of time they were taken),” added Dr. Kohls. “We want to know what side effects he had from the drugs and what his responses were. We want to know what was the reasoning behind the decision to prescribe unproven drug cocktails on someone whose brain was already adversely affected by the past use of potentially brain damaging drugs.”

Sources for this article include: [DOCX]

Learn more:

Robin Williams and the Growing Epidemic of Depression.

Robin Williams’ suicide shocked the world. It seems unfathomable that someone so manically funny, who brought so much laughter into our lives, could be plagued with depression.


As his beloved alien character Mork might have said … “Does. Not. Compute.”

Outwardly, it appeared that he had everything to live for — loving family, adoration from fans, respect of his peers, and financial and artistic success.

But Williams suffered lifelong struggles with substance abuse (alcohol and cocaine), depression, and bipolar disorder. Days after his suicide, his wife announced that he was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which can produce depression, even in people with no previous history of it.

If anything good can come of this, it’s the hope that this will keep the much-needed discussion open on what is going wrong with the state of our collective mental health.

Since his death, calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and National Alliance on Mental Illnesshave surged. (1)  Hopefully, a few other lives have already been saved.

Epidemics of Depression and Suicide

Both suicide and depression rates have been skyrocketing.

People born after 1945 in the US and other developed countries are three times more likely to experience depression than people born before. (2)

19 million Americans are affected by clinical depression every year. (3)

Each year, 34,000 people commit suicide, about twice as many deaths as caused by homicide. (4)

In 2010, suicide took more lives than all wars, murders, and natural disasters combined. (5)

Modern Lifestyle to Blame

So what has  happened since World War II that could be responsible for this upswing in depression and suicides?

The changes that have taken place in society since World War II are so profound and numerous it might be easier to list what hasn’t changed since then. But here are some of the things we’re exposed to now that are enemies of the health of our brains or the state of our minds:

  • Eating processed food loaded with sugar, unhealthy fats, and additives
  • Living in a sea of man-made chemicals – there are over 80,000 in our environment and our food (6)
  • Electromagnetic field exposure – the World Health Organization considers cell phones as dangerous as lead and chloroform (7)
  • Social isolation – 26 million Americans now living alone (8)
  • Lack of exercise — most of us spend up to 12 hours per day sitting
  • Insomnia — 60% of us regularly don’t get enough sleep (9)
  • Increased stress
  • Increased use of both recreational and prescription drugs

Our modern lifestyle is wreaking havoc on our brains and our mental well-being. Could getting away from it all and going back to simpler times be the answer?

A Better Way

You don’t have to go far to find pockets of people where depression and suicide are almost unknown.

Here in the US we can look at Amish communities. The two largest can be found in Ohio and Pennsylvania with about 50,000 members each. These people choose to lead very simple lives and eschew modern conveniences — no electricity, phones, or cars.

They work hard and eat food they raise themselves.

They also have a strong sense of community and religious faith.

And they have virtually no depression or suicide.

Amish teens are given permission to take a year out to live amongst the “English” as they call the non-Amish.

It’s surprising to us – but not to their elders – that 90% choose to return to their simple way of life.

You can also look at longevity centers of the world called “Blue Zones” – places like Okinawa, Japan and Ikaria, Greece. People in these places stay healthy and active well into their 90′s. They experience significantly less depression. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are virtually unheard of.

You don’t have to move to a Greek Island or live like the Amish to start taking better care of your brain. Here are some common-sense steps you can take instead:

And, of course, laughter is a great way to stay healthy and happy.

Thank you, Robin, for making us laugh. You were a unique talent, a force of nature, and you will be sorely missed. RIP.

Suicidal? These 5 Types Of People Are At Increased Risk Of Considering Suicide.

While Robin Williams’ suicide came as an unfortunate surprise for family, friends, and members of the general public, certain aspects of Williams’ personality may have served as the writing on the wall for his untimely death. Aside from his history ofdepression and addiction, some experts agree that Williams’ comedic abilities were tell-tale signs of depression and bipolar behaviors, keeping up with the “sad clown” façade. There are some other personality traits people exhibit that can indicate their risk for attempting suicide.


1. Smokers

It seems as though smoking cannot only deteriorate our physical health, but also ourmental health. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine noticed that a rise in cigarette taxes coincided with a drop in suicide rates, so they decided to examine the possible relation to these statistics. Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the research team first decided how many suicides were committed by people who identified as smokers. The second part of their analysis focused on the number of suicides in states with aggressive anti-smoking policies. For each dollar increase on cigarette taxes each year, the suicide rate for that state dropped by 10 percent.

“We really need to look more closely at the effects of smoking and nicotine, not only on physical health but on mental health, too,” said lead researcher Dr. Richard A. Grucza. “It could be that [smoking] affects depression or increases addiction to other substances. We don’t know how smoking exerts these effects, but the numbers show it clearly does something. Nicotine is a plausible candidate for explaining the link between smoking and suicide risk. As with other drugs … chronic use can contribute to depression or anxiety, and that could help to explain the link to suicide.”

2. Teens Who Suffer A Concussion

Suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can damage a teenager’s neurological health as they grow up, but could that also relate to a weakened psychological and emotional state? A recent study conducted at St. Michael’s Hospital in Ontario found that teenagers who experience a TBI such as a concussion are at an increased risk to premature death, most notably due to suicide. Teens who suffered a concussion were three times more likely to attempt suicide, twice as likely to be bullied at school, and more likely to call a crisis help-line or to be prescribed drugs to treat anxiety/depression compared to those who did not suffer a concussion.

“These results show that preventable brain injuries and mental health and behavioural problems among teens continue to remain a blind spot in our culture,” said lead author of the study Dr. Gabriela Ilie. “These kids are falling through the cracks.”

3. Musicians

Kurt Cobain’s personal history of drug abuse and family history of suicide were both indicated as risk factors for his eventual suicide, but not many psychology experts were quick to suggest his career as a musician was a red flag. Steve Sack, director of the Center for Suicide Research and a professor at Wayne State University,explains that suicide rates among musicians are three times higher than the current national average. While many studies on suicide agree that other artistic professionals such as writers, actors, and painters are prone to depression and suicidal thoughts, musicians tend to go unnoticed. Yet their work is of a similar nature.

4. Adults With Asperger’s

Falling under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Asperger’s syndrome is a condition that causes people to suffer from social impairment, communication difficulties, and restrictive/repetitive behaviors. The recent study of the UK population revealed that people with Asperger’s are nine times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and many even attempt suicide at some point in their life. The inability to socialize or connect with other people exhibited by those with Asperger’s was deemed a contributing factor to suicidal thoughts.

“Adults with Asperger Syndrome often suffer with secondary depression due to social isolation, loneliness, social exclusion, lack of community services, under-achievement, and unemployment. Their depression and risk of suicide are preventable with the appropriate support,” Simon Baron-Cohen, professor from the Autism Researcher Center at Cambridge University, and the CLASS clinic in the Cambridgeshire, said in a statement. “This study should be a wake-up call for the urgent need for high quality services, to prevent the tragic waste of even a single life.”

5. Adopted Teens

As a result of detachment and placement in an institutional setting at an early age, many adopted teens can display signs of various psychiatric disorders as well as substance abuse. A recent study including over 1,200 teens living in Minnesota revealed that 47 out of the 56 suicidal attempts were carried out by those who were adopted. Sixteen of the adopted teens who attempted suicide were boys and 31 were girls. Among the 692 adopted teens included in the study, the majority suffered from a range of behavioral issues such as a family discord, academic disengagement, externalizing behavior, and a negative mood. Surprisingly, the research team associated suicidal thoughts with psychological traits inherited form their biological parents, including psychiatric disorders and substance abuse rather than problems with their adopted home.

“Adolescence, in general, is a period of higher risk [for suicide attempt],” Dr. Victor Fornari, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at North Shore-LIJ Health System, told HealthDay. “And now there’s evidence that the risk may be relatively higher for adopted adolescents.”

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