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Mental Health-Related Google Searches Decline in Summer

A study tracking Google searches about mental health issues showed substantial decreases in summer versus winter, implying a lessening of symptoms during the longer, warmer days. Larry Greenemeier reports

Summer means longer days, warmer weather and, apparently, relief for people suffering from a variety of mental health problems. That’s the takeaway from a study that tracked Google searches about mental health subjects.

Researchers used Google's public database of queries to identify and monitor searches related to a variety of psychological issues in the U.S. and Australia between 2006 and 2010.

Here’s some of what they found. Eating disorder searches were down more than 37 percent in summers versus winters in both countries. Likewise, ADHD searches decreased by more than 28 percent during summertime. And Google searches related to suicide dropped more than 24 percent when the weather warmed up. The study will appear in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. [John W. Ayers et al., Seasonality in Seeking Mental Health Information on Google]

While some use the internet as a mental health ally, a recent survey reveals a darker trend: increasing rudeness and incivility on social media sites. In England, a man who had tweeted insults at a professional boxer was shocked when the fighter showed up at his door demanding an apology. Fortunately for everyone’s mental—and physical—health, he got one.

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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