By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
4. Can Handwriting Warn of Other Mental Health Problems?
One useful reason for analyzing handwriting could be to prevent depressed or mentally vulnerable people from taking their own life. Could handwriting signal suicide risk? One French research group believes so. The 2007 study from the Société Française de Graphologie, Paris looked at the ability of graphologists to differentiate between letters written by people who attempted to commit suicide and letters by non-suicidal volunteers.
They looked at 40 fully-recovered patients who had previously attempted suicide and 40 healthy volunteers wrote and signed a short story not related to suicide or mental health status. Letters expressing sadness were excluded. In 32 out of 40 cases, the graphologists correctly identified the suicidal patients.
5. What Does Shaky Handwriting Signify?
If your handwriting is abnormally shaky , you could be suffering from essential tremor.
Essential tremor is a nervous system disorder that can affect any part of the body but occurs most frequently in the hands. Essential tremor manifests itself in trembling when you try to complete a task - handwriting is one of the tasks to suffer.
Essential tremor is often confused with Parkinson's disease but the two conditions differ. Essential tremor occurs when you use your hands, unlike Parkinson's which is worse when the hands are resting - hence the shaky handwriting. Essential tremor is not life-threatening but your symptoms may become worse over time and handwriting becomes increasingly shaky, producing larger letters. A 1985 study from Hines VA Hospital, Hines, IL studied 18 patients with essential tremor and found handwriting was improved through therapy.
6. Dystonia Can Also Cause Shaky Handwriting
If you suffer from dystonia, your muscles contract involuntarily to cause uncontrolled twisting in the part of the body affected. Most cases affect only one part of the body, such as the arm.
If your handwriting becomes shaky or illegible halfway down the page, after you suffer from an involuntary contraction of the muscles in your hand, writer's cramp dystonia may be to blame.
Research from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, carried out in 2008, looked at handwriting samples from 10 dystonia sufferers and 10 healthy patients. The researchers found six variables in the samples that showed a difference between a dystonia sufferer and a healthy person. These variables concerned handwriting smoothness, frequency of pen strokes, the velocity of the pen on the paper and the speed of the strokes.
7. Tiny Letters Can Signify Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's disease creates significant problems with movement, as well as cognitive and neurobehavioral issues. The disease affects each sufferer in a different way and symptoms may develop slowly or rapidly.
One of the signs of Parkinson's disease is very small or cramped handwriting - micrographia. Sometimes the handwriting can become so small even the writer cannot read it.
But something may be able to be done about this particular aspect of Parkinson's disease. A 1997 study from the University of Oxford, UK looked at micrographia in patients with Parkinson's disease and found patients wrote in increasingly normal-sized letters when reminded by visual clues or auditory reminders. Patients continued to write with larger handwriting for a short time after the cue.
8. Upper, Middle and Lower Zones Correlate to Different Parts of the Body
Some graphologists say that handwriting can be split into zones, which indicate the different parts of the body.
The upper zone is the top of capital letters, the upper loop of letters and the upper extensions of lower case letters such as d, f and t. Analyzing the upper zone of the letters can point to conditions concerning the head or upper body.
Similarly, the middle zone - the mid part of letters and lower case letters - concerns the mid-section and the heart, lungs and other organs.
The lower zone of letters matches the lower body. Researchers claim health conditions can be pinpointed by disconnections or broken loops in the specific zones, although further research is needed to draw accurate conclusions.
9. Pressure in Handwriting Signifies Energy Levels
While more research is needed to accurately link the pressure of the pen on the paper with energy levels, anecdotal evidence suggests handwriting with a heavy pressure - where the writing appears dark, or shows through to the back of the paper - may indicate high levels of energy.
A light pressure indicates a lack of energy or tiredness. If you're struggling to write with heavy strokes, take a look at your overall health and way of life to see if you could do with a little rest and relaxation.
10. Slanting Handwriting - What Does It Mean?
According to the International Graphoanalysis Society, the slant of the handwriting indicates an emotional response, and shows the extent to which the writer is emotionally open or expressive.
This emotional state may correspond to a person's overall health, particularly when stress and repressed feelings are considered. People with right slanting handwriting are said to respond more to emotional situations and those with left slanting handwriting hold their emotions in.
Take a look at your grocery list next time you're heading to the store and see if you can spot any health clues in your handwriting.