The scientific portal on Body Language, Kinesics and Nonverbal Communication#

Search this site

Detecting Depression

Is being sad really bad? Nope! Sadness is a normal human emotion and isn’t really bad as we all assume. Sadness is just an outcome of an unfulfilled expectation, a disappointment, a separation, a failure or a loss. Sometimes, inability to handle (increasing) stress also leads to sadness. Actually, sadness saves a great amount of physical and mental energy by keeping an individual inactive, isolated and grounded over a short amount of time. The individual would need same energy in near future for re-starting to act or react upon something engaging and promising.

Body language of a sad person speaks loudly to eyes of an observer. Such person appears detached from outer world and disinterested in what is happening around. Person’s body posture appear loose, crooked, saggy or requiring some king of physical support to keep body straight and upright. The outer edges of the person’s lips turn downward, focus is not maintained, no attention is given to others and no prolonged eye contact is made. Extreme expression of sadness is weeping and crying out loudly to seek immediate caressing, consoling and social support.

Actually, a sad person seeks social support and stimulation to get rid of sadness. Motivation, hope, humor, promise, positivity and new opportunities drive away sadness and bring a person back in action, interaction and physical movements. In short, negative social stimulation(s) brings sadness and positive social stimulation(s) drives it away. However, depression can’t be driven away as easily as sadness.


When sadness descends into deeper level of a person’s life for a prolonged time then it  turns into depression. Unlike short-term sadness, depression is a mental disorder. It essentially disables a person. Severe and prolonged depression makes permanent damages to body, mind, brain and social rapport. Untreated acute depression (‘clinical depression’) can result in suicide. Hence, depression shouldn’t be taken lightly at all.

What exactly leads to depression? Prolonged social isolation, childhood abuse, dysfunctional family, lack of a good company, guilt, lack of regular & positive social interactions, oppression, recurring failures, failed ambitions, deceased intimate person(s), broken heart, failed relationships, failed ventures, negative self-image, worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness and most importantly - not being able to find any alternative way out of the ongoing personal condition i. e. chronic illness leads to depression. Malnutrition, deficiency, hormonal imbalance and heredity can also contribute to depression.

Depression in a person can be detected through his/her body language, vocal, speech, behavioral and nonverbal clues which can’t at all remain hidden, suppressed or muted for a long time. Therefore, you should be able to detect depression in yourself and also in others to treat it effectively and timely to avoid devastating outcomes.


Development of depression in older people is quite obvious due to deterioration, disabilities and deformations. However, falling prey to depression among adults, young men or women and children is increasing worldwide.

Depression among children is a cures of modern life?
Following are few key body language, vocal, speech, behavioral and nonverbal clues conveying depression:

1) Person hardly makes any eye contact or avoids a prolonged one. Person buries his/her eyes into something, keeps eyes closed or keeps looking at something for a long time most. Dark circles could also develop around eyes.
Person’s eyes lack luster, spark or shine.

2) Person’s cardiovascular capacity goes down significantly. Person breaths rapidly and pants heavily during seemingly routine and normal physical activities. Person experiences body pain and muscular weakness. Person suffers from frequent sickness and fatigue.

3) Depression drains energy out of a person so such person’s overall body language i. e. facial expressions, hand gestures, vocal tone, gaze and body movements appear lacking esteem, passion, pride, coordination, flow, swag, speed, strength, spontaneity and firmness.

4) Person remains silent, isolated and withdrawn for a long time. Person doesn’t want to exert himself/herself on anybody, doesn’t make his/her presence felt by others, doesn’t draw anybody’s attention or doesn’t take any active interest in interactions.

5) Person’s doesn’t give enough attention to and takes care of his/her own physical appearance. Person doesn’t take care about how he/she looks in public. Person wears uncleaned and untidy cloths. Person lacks cleanliness and doesn’t care about hygiene.

6) Person’s body postures appear dull, dented or downward. Person doesn’t stand upright, always seeks some physical support, doesn’t keep self straight and remains seated or laid down at one place for a very long time without saying or doing anything.

7)
Person can't focus or dedicate to on work life. Person wouldn't carry out given or self-assigned tasks and duties properly and timely. Procrastinating, yawning and telling excuse becomes routine for a depressed person. Work turns into punishment.

8)
Person appears demotivated, uncaring and disinterested to do, to carry, to perform, to act, to show or to repeat exactly what he/she once used to with a great interest, pride, energy and enthusiasm.

9)
Person’s voice sounds low, heavy and filled with a great pain. Person speaks very slowly, takes a long time to complete words and also takes long pauses. Person doesn’t open up voluntarily.

10) Person doesn’t sleep well, deeply or calmly and eat appropriately. Person might eat a lot or very less. Person starts loosing appetite, vigor and libido.

11)
Person shows frequent and unpredictable mood swings through expressions, vocal tones and body movements.

12) Person indulges into serve addiction, drug abuse, self-abuse, self-harm and self-infliction.


How to recognize a depressed person through verbal clues?
Upon asking to share plans, thoughts, views, perspectives and opinions; the depressed person often expresses irritation, negativity, lack of confidence, complaining, uncertainty, helplessness and anxiety. Basically, a depressed person feels as if nothing is left to contribute to world, society, community, family or group.

Depression leads to decreased or no physical activities, lack of social interactions, bad eating habits, inability to focus, addiction and deteriorated health. Similarly, lack of physical activities, addiction, absence of good social interactions, bad nutrition, lack of great goals and diversion from healthy lifestyle can also contribute to depression.
Spending hours with cellphone can be a sign of depression.
Is our so-called modern, technological, intimacy-deprived, physically unchallenged, indoor, unbalanced and unnatural lifestyle the very reason behind increasing rate of minute to acute depression in population? NOW is the time to check and change.

Related Articles:
1) Body Image and social communication 2) Body Language of Narcissist 3) Face of a liar(?) 4) Couple in trouble?

Truth about Lying

The ultimate goal of most people who attend seminars/workshops, read books or articles and watch videos about body language is to become a good human lie detector. Am I right? Matter of fact is that developing ability to detect lies on spot and catch liars red-handed with great precision is the dream of many people. After all, why it shouldn’t be? We always want to be a step ahead of liars and avoid damages done by them. Trustworthiness between any two individuals is based on Transparency, Truthfulness and Verifiability.

However, no matter how badly we want our world to walk on path of truthfulness, we just can’t eradicate the trait of lying from human nature. Perhaps, man is the only creature who lies in entire animal kingdom. We believe in lies of others because we lie to ourselves. Hence, until we don’t thoroughly understand about Why we lie?, we wouldn’t be able to detect lies. Folks, let’s see how, why, where, when and which types of lies are born.

In a kind of world in which competition, scarcity, vulnerability, mortality, intimidation, fear, rejection, theft and threat is absent; people wouldn’t need to lie at all. However, we don’t live in such kind of world. Right? In our world, a person needs to work on many different ways to survive, compete, acquire resources, find a mate and pass genes to next generation while living along with thousands of people who are its present and potential partners, protectors, friends, foes, challengers, competitors and intimidators.

If a person is enough resourceful, powerful, skilled and independent to live and do everything alone for survival and propagation of genes, he/she wouldn’t (need to) lie to anybody. Lying is an easiest way for an individual to fix different types of social issues on temporary basis. Lying is an entirely social activity. At least two individuals are required for giving birth to a lie. Don’t you agree? Please let me explain.

First of all, let’s go through three different short stories and analyze types of lie in them afterwords.

A) A child rushed to home crying with no tears in eyes after beating another child. Unsuspecting yet protective mother immediately smelled potential threat to her child and rushes towards child. She asked to child that who fought with her child in the playground. She wasted no time in asking her child if he/she caused the fight and started abusing the unseen culprit. She rushed to the playground aggressively and started looking for culprit impatiently.

B) A manufacturing company gave a clear signs of going bankrupt. Its owner became dead worried about future. The owner was desperately looking for breakthrough. Suddenly, two incompetent employee copied idea of an innovative product from internet. One of them hurriedly presented it to the owner by saying that he/she designed the product. The owner didn’t waste time in verifying the employee’s competency to design such product.

C) A wealthy 50 year old man wanted to marry and start family. He was afraid of rejection due to his unattractive looks. One day, a lone 45 year old woman wearing makeup caught his attention in a social function which he was attending upon invitation. He immediately got attracted towards her due to her "young looks". He approached her and started talking with her. He started flying in sky after she told her age as 25 years.

Secondly, knowing what types of lies a person can tell would help you greatly in detecting them. Following are the seven major types of lies:

A) Denial - It is refusing to acknowledge a truth. The extent of denial can be quite large i. e. they may be lying only to you just this one time or they may be lying to themselves.


B) Omission - It is leaving out relevant information. Easier and least risky. It doesn’t involve inventing any stories. It is passive deception and less guilt is involved.

C) Restructuring - It is distorting the context by saying something in sarcasm and changing the characters or altering the scene.

D) Error - It is a lie told by mistake. The person believes they are being truthful but what they are saying is not true.

E) Exaggeration - It is representing oneself as greater, better, more experienced/eligible and more successful.

F) Minimization - It is reducing the effects of a mistake, a fault or a judgment call.

G) Fabrication - It is deliberately inventing a false story.

In above three examples, desperation, fear and anxiety took hold of minds of three persons who didn’t suspect or verify if other person is telling the truth. Strong emotions put thicker filters on their sensory perception. One person simply got carried away with lies told by other person. Protecting themselves and their interests unconsciously made all of them to believe in what other persons told.

First lie (A) is an example of Omission, second lie (B) is Fabrication and third lie (C) is Exaggeration.

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." - Mark Twain
Following are few fundamental facts about Lying:

1) People believe in lies not because they need to but they want to. By (blindly) believing in a lie, people want to save energy and time required to verify authenticity.

2) Person’s capacity of detecting lies decreases with increment in emotional filters that  interfere with processing of sensory inputs and suppress rationality.

3) Any isolated clue doesn’t points to lying. Multiple body language clues and signals need to be analyzed together in context.

4) Telling a lie generates stress inside body which is unmistakably given away by body. Words do lie but (entire) body can’t.

5) People lie to satisfy their primal drives, needs or urge if there’s no other way to do so in a given amount of time.

6) When words and body start conflicting with each other, body language gives credible clues.

7) Persons having great control on their own emotions can detect other’s lies effective.

8) Without establishing nonverbal baseline of an individual, deviation can’t be detected.

9)Lying decreases with increment in mutual confidence, sympathy and trustworthiness.

10) Key principle of interrogation is to induce more stress in person being questioned.

11) More ambitious, apathetic and bold persons tell more fabricated lies
or stories.

12) A complete stranger can detect lies more efficiently than a familiar one.

13) Only facial expressions aren't credible for catching lies and liars.


14) Lack of proximity, passage and transparency often allows lying.

15) Looking into eyes isn’t credible sign of one telling truth.

16) Most of the lies are harmless, illogical and entertaining.

17) Controlling emotions and motion is precursor of lying.

18) Lie eventually leaks out verbally or nonverbally.

19) Stressed liars appear relived after telling truth.

20) Inability to rationalize leads to belief in lies.

21) Women can detect lies better than men.

Only grown-ups lie? Nope! It starts from an early age which most of us wouldn't even imagine about. Babies start lying and faking right from age of 6 month. Do we only lie to others? Nope! We do lie to ourselves by twisting facts and denying them wishfully. However, a hope is a necessary lie for survival.

Lying, fabricating and faking starts at an early age in humans.

Apart of psychopaths and seasoned criminals, normal people can’t live peacefully with lies they tell to others over a long period of time. Most people lie out of fear and then become fearful out of lying. Guilt starts eating most people from inside.

In once exceptional case, an animal lied once. Koko, a female gorilla, was born in San Francisco Zoo and was trained to talk using a modified form of American Sign Language which was taught by her trainer and caretaker Ms. Francine Patterson.

One day, Koko ripped a sink out of the wall and she put blame on her pet kitten by signing "cat did it" when her keepers confronted her about it. The gorilla might have lied due to ability of speaking through sign language and prolonged proximity to humans.


Koko, a captive gorilla, once lied using the sign language.

With invention of computers, the very ambition has turned into many software applications. However, modern and industrialized human civilization isn’t free from costly lies and dangerous liars. With invention of telephones and cellphones, we started lying over large distances.

With on-going development in broadband internet, quantum computing, neural networks, artificial intelligence and machine learning; lie detection might reach to a new level and go in a new direction about which we have not imagined ever before.

Related Links: