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Can we spot depression in our friends and loved ones?

So how do you know if someone close to you is depressed? There’s not a biological test that you can take. After last week’s shocking suicides by designer Kate Spade and television host Anthony Bourdain, we’ve been talking about the darkness and how to overcome depression on the Ron and Don Show.

There is some new research out on depression that might be able to help you spot depression early in yourself or your loved one.

RELATED: Bourdain’s passing had to do with stigma and masculinity

Researches have been using computer analytics to monitor the language of people and found some surprisingly straightforward things about depression.

Author Elizabeth Bernstein goes through the results in her piece in the Wall Street Journal.

The biggest takeaway is “People who are depressed tend to use the pronoun “I” more, indicating a greater focus on self. They also use “absolute” words like “must,” “completely,” “should” or “always,” reflecting an overly black-or-white outlook.”

This is going to be a subtle change, so it might be difficult to spot over social media. Essentially, when a person’s language goes from talking about “we” and “us” or “he” and “she” to a fixation on self, that could be an early warning sign that depression is setting in. Couple that with permanent words like “always” and “never,” and the likelihood of depression goes up again. As the depressed person focuses more and more on themselves and the darkness seems to become more absolute and permanent, it’s easier to see why suicide can emerge as a viable solution to a person in that head space.

“If things are always going to be this bad, what’s the point.”

But we all know that things are not always going to be this bad. Catching the depression early could literally be a matter of life and death.

Here’s the thing though, intercepting depression requires that we are engaged. It requires that we are paying attention. It requires that we are communicating with each other.

Let me offer this as a first step. If you or someone in your life has been changing their language as I just described, ask them this question: “Have you been feeling depressed?”

If they say yes, then together, find some help. Start with talk therapy and a visit to a mental health professional.

That’s it, just ask them and listen. You could save a life.

You can hear “What are we talking about here?” everyday at 4:45 p.m. on 97.3 FM.

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