Google searches for 'anxiety' hit record high this spring

Google searches for "anxiety" and related terms skyrocketed this spring after the U.S. declared COVID-19 a national emergency, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego used Google Trends to monitor daily internet searches for such terms as "anxiety," "panic," and "anxiety attack symptoms" in the U.S. between Jan. 1, 2004, and May 4. Researchers collaborated with data scientists at the Institute for Disease Modeling in Bellevue, Wash., and Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University for the study.

Google searches for anxiety were about 11 percent higher than usual in the 58-day period after March 13, when the U.S. declared the pandemic a national emergency. During this period, there were 3.4 million searches for anxiety, about 375,000 more than usual, researchers estimated. 

"In fact, searches for anxiety and panic attacks were the highest they've ever been in over 16 years of historical search data," Benjamin Althouse, PhD, a principal scientist at the Institute for Disease Modeling who helped design the study, told CNBC.

Online searches for anxiety returned to normal levels by May, "perhaps because Americans have become more resilient to the societal fallout from COVID-19 or because they had already received whatever benefit they could from searching the internet," researchers said.

To view the full study, click here.


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