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The language you use shows how stressed you are

The research, from experts at University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Arizona, Tucson, showed several speech patterns are closely linked to stress.

The language you use can show how stressed you are better than your own rating of your anxiety, new research shows.

Psychologists found that tracking the use of certain words by people predicted stress-related changes to their DNA.

In times of stress, people were showed to speak less, but use more adverbs and adjectives.

The research could open up new ways to study our stress levels and help us understand how psychological pressures can change our physical health.

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The language you use can show how stressed you are better than your own rating of your anxiety, new research shows. Psychologists found that tracking the use of certain words by people predicted stress-related changes to their DNA (stock image)

STRESS GENES

The team compared the language used by people with their expression of 50 genes associated with high stress levels.

High stress can have devastating effects on health, and has been linked to several chronic disorders including dementia and heart disease.

Research has shown that DNA within cells in the body's immune system changes during stressful events to boost inflammation or heighten our response to infections.

These changes seem to represent the body's response to the 'threat' of stress in the brain - reacting as it would to the physical threat of a virus or bacterium. 

The research, from experts at University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Arizona, Tucson, showed several speech patterns are closely linked to stress.

People who are highly stressed talk less overall, and are more likely to use adverbs such as 'really' or 'incredibly'.

These words may help us deal with stress by acting as emotional intensifiers that show a higher state of arousal, the researchers said.

Stressed people were also less likely to use third person plural pronouns such as 'their' or 'they'.

This could show that people focus less on others and the outside world when they feel under threat.

The team made their findings by comparing the words 143 people used to their expression of stress-related genes. 

Volunteers wore audio recorders that were switched on every few minutes for two days, collecting a total of 22,627 short clips, which were analysed by the team.

In particular, the researchers looked at the use of 'function' words by the volunteers, such a pronouns and adjectives.

'By themselves they don't have any meaning, but they clarify what's going on,' study coauthor Professor Matthias Mehl, from the University of Arizona, told Nature News.

People who are highly stressed talk less overall, and are more likely to use adverbs such as 'really' or 'incredibly'. These words may help us deal with stress by acting as emotional intensifiers that show a higher state of arousal, the researchers said (stock image)

THE STUDY 

The team made their findings by comparing the words 143 people used to their expression of stress-related genes. 

Volunteers wore audio recorders that were switched on every few minutes for two days, collecting a total of 22,627 short clips, which were analysed by the team.

In particular, the researchers looked at the use of 'function' words by the volunteers, such a pronouns and adjectives.

Experts believe we choose 'meaning' words such as nouns and verbs, but that function words are produced more automatically, and so betray more about what's going on with the speaker.

Previous research has shown people's use of function words changes immediately after a terrorist attack or during a personal crisis.

People's use of function words predicted stress-linked gene expression better than their own ratings of their feelings of stress, depression and anxiety. 

Experts believe we choose 'meaning' words such as nouns and verbs, but that function words 'are produced more automatically and they betray a bit more about what's going on with the speaker,' Professor Mehl said.

He added that previous research has shown people's use of function words changes immediately after a terrorist attack or during a personal crisis.

The team compared the language used by each volunteer with their expression of 50 genes known to be linked to high stress levels.

High stress can have devastating effects on health, and has been linked to several chronic disorders including dementia and heart disease.

Research has shown that DNA within the cells in the body's immune system changes during stressful events to boost inflammation or heighten our response to infections.

These changes seem to represent the body's response to the 'threat' of stress in the brain - reacting as it would to the physical threat of a virus or bacterium. 

People's use of function words predicted stress-linked gene expression better than their own ratings of their feelings of stress, depression and anxiety.

The researchers claim the approach could help to pick people out at risk of developing stress-related disease.

Doctors could drop self-reported stress measures and instead listen passively to the way patients speak, coauthor Steve Cole, from the University of California, said. 

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