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)
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