Depression & Language

Current project leader: Marta Witkowska

Description: In this project, we conduct a comprehensive analysis of language typical of those who experience low mood. We seek to answer the question of whether their mental state could be detected through the words and grammatical structures they choose to use. Previous research has already identified several linguistic markers typical of depressed individuals; however, they overlooked a potentially highly important factor: linguistic agency. Agency manifests in language through the use of words and grammatical forms reflecting action, goals, planning, and self-efficacy. We believe that people who experience low mood might be likely to use language that is low in agency and therefore, one could identify them by the language they use in their daily lives, for instance on social media. To test our hypotheses we use computer-based analytical tools that allow analysing large quantities of textual data from social media platforms such as Twitter or Reddit. In the later stages of the project, we also plan to examine whether language could positively influence low mood. Our results will be used to provide recommendations for medical practitioners helping individuals who struggle with mood disorders as well as to assist with developing novel language-based tools for psychoeducation in the area of emotion regulation. Finally, we hope that our research will help improve detection tools of early signs of depression on social media.


  • Polish National Science Foundation Grant 2021/43/B/HS6/02819. The link between linguistic agency and mood – awarded to Marta Witkowska (2022-2025).

Representative Publications: