Google searches for mental woes decline in summer: study

A new study finds that Google searches for mental health problems drop during the summer, which suggests that there may be a stronger link between mental disorders and changing seasons than previously thought, researchers say.

Researchers from San Diego State University in the US analyzed data from Google searches for mental health information made in Australia and the US from 2006 through 2010. Findings showed that searches in both countries for mental illness woes were higher in winter, while ebbing in the warmer months.

Eating disorder searches were 37 percent lower in summers than in winters in the US, with a 42 percent drop in summers in Australia.

For bipolar disorder information, searches dropped by at least 16 percent during summers in both counties. ADHD searches fell by 28 and 31 percent, respectively, in the US and Australia during summertime.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder searches also dipped in the summer by 18 percent in the US and 15 percent in Australia.

Searches on anxiety were down seven percent in the US in the summertime and 15 percent during Australian summers.

"We didn't expect to find similar winter peaks and summer troughs for queries involving every specific mental illness or problem we studied, however, the results consistently showed seasonal effects across all conditions -- even after adjusting for media trends," said Dr. James Niels Rosenquist, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The study, announced April 9, will be published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


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