The words that we use can affect our mind, the evidence is overwhelming. I am not just talking about hurtful words that others use to bully us, nor am I talking about words that we use as labels. I am talking about the words that we use to describe our mind-condition.
It is common today to use words that describe our mental condition such as - stressed, distressed, depressed, and depression. While easy to describe the exact extent of the condition in a single word, are these words making it worse for us? Research indicates, yes.
If I was to tell you that you had cancer for example, what would your immediate thoughts be - "I am going to suffer", "I am going to have to go through terrible treatment", or would you think "I am going to die". Most of us would probably think the worse. However, cancer is being successfully treated these days and we know if caught early enough, recovery is almost guaranteed.
When it comes to our mind-health, the same can also be true. When many people read the word 'stress', they have a negative reaction and a 'stress' hormone is released making the person feel 'stressed'. The word stress, according to most articles, was introduced into mind-health from physics by Hans Selye, other articles say it came from engineering. Regardless of the origin, the word had little to do with mind-health.
What does the word 'depressed' actually mean then? It means to push down. What does the word 'depression' mean, a reduction in activity. Furthermore, we tell ourselves that we suffer from a 'mental' condition. Are we actually 'suffering', or are we 'feeling', or do we simply 'have' a condition? Is it 'mental', or is it to do with our 'mind'.
Now let's imagine putting these words together into a sentence - "I suffer from depression". What does your imagery now tell you?
Over history, our words have changed in the field of psychology, for better or for worse. In earlier times when we were 'stressed, we were actually 'tired', or 'troubled' and needed to rest. When we were 'depressed' we were 'low' or 'down'. 'Depression' was, and still is on occasion, termed 'melancholia' and then a 'mental breakdown'.
For me, I would much rather be melancholic than have the diagnosis of accumulated stress disorder. Don't even start me on the word 'disorder'.
Words do matter, changing the words that we use to describe our condition also matters as it can have a negative impact on our mind-health. Change the words to change your mind. Don't let words hold you back or take you down.
For some, a label is a stigma, a stigma that society repels.Change the words to change your mind, it works.