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Fewest Google searches for Mental Health when there is lots of vitamin D from the sun – May 2013

Seasonality in Seeking Mental Health Information on Google

American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Volume 44, Issue 5 , Pages 520-525, May 2013
John W. Ayers, PhD, MA. Benjamin M. Althouse, ScM , Jon-Patrick Allem, MA , J. Niels Rosenquist, MD, PhD , Daniel E. Ford, MD, MPH

Background” Population mental health surveillance is an important challenge limited by resource constraints, long time lags in data collection, and stigma. One promising approach to bridge similar gaps elsewhere has been the use of passively generated digital data.

Purpose: This article assesses the viability of aggregate Internet search queries for real-time monitoring of several mental health problems, specifically in regard to seasonal patterns of seeking out mental health information.

Methods: All Google mental health queries were monitored in the U.S. and Australia from 2006 to 2010. Additionally, queries were subdivided among those including the terms ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder); anxiety; bipolar; depression; anorexia or bulimia (eating disorders); OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder); schizophrenia; and suicide. A wavelet phase analysis was used to isolate seasonal components in the trends, and based on this model, the mean search volume in winter was compared with that in summer, as performed in 2012.

Results: All mental health queries followed seasonal patterns with winter peaks and summer troughs amounting to a 14% (95% CI=11%, 16%) difference in volume for the U.S. and 11% (95% CI=7%, 15%) for Australia. These patterns also were evident for all specific subcategories of illness or problem. For instance, seasonal differences ranged from 7% (95% CI=5%, 10%) for anxiety (followed by OCD, bipolar, depression, suicide, ADHD, schizophrenia) to 37% (95% CI=31%, 44%) for eating disorder queries in the U.S. Several nonclinical motivators for query seasonality (such as media trends or academic interest) were explored and rejected.

Conclusions: Information seeking on Google across all major mental illnesses and/or problems followed seasonal patterns similar to those found for seasonal affective disorder. These are the first data published on patterns of seasonality in information seeking encompassing all the major mental illnesses, notable also because they likely would have gone undetected using traditional surveillance.

Notes on graphs

  • Blue = US, Red = Australia
  • 5 sinusoids = 5 years of data for each country
  • Numbers at bottom of graph = weeks into the year for each set of sinusoids
    The variation across the 5 years is shown in ( ) and by the length of the horizonal line

Entire set of graphs


Eating Disorders: large change with season


Schizophrenia: large change with season, consistent from year to year



See also MedicalNewsToday on this study

all mental health searches lower in summer

Mental HealthUSAustralia
Eating disorder 37%42%
Schizophrenia 37% 36%.
ADHD28% 31%
Suicide24% and 29%17%
Anxiety 7% 15%

PDF is attached at the bottom of this page

See also VitaminDWiki

Attached files

ID Name Comment Uploaded Size Downloads
2380 Schiz.jpg admin 18 Apr, 2013 45.84 Kb 1560
2379 Eating.jpg admin 18 Apr, 2013 47.41 Kb 1578
2378 Season all.jpg admin 18 Apr, 2013 76.98 Kb 1528
2377 Mental Season.pdf admin 18 Apr, 2013 221.32 Kb 1389