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What Google searches tell us about people’s anxiety during the pandemic

People are looking for answers about anxiety and panic through Google.

This April 26, 2017, file photo shows the Google mobile phone icon, in Philadelphia. The Australian government said on Friday, July 31, 2020 it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with Australian media businesses fair pay for news content.
This April 26, 2017, file photo shows the Google mobile phone icon, in Philadelphia.
Matt Rourke, Associated Press

A new study suggested that people are turning to Google for answers about anxiety and panic amid the coronavirus pandemic.

What’s happening:

Researchers from the Qualcomm Institute at the University of California San Diego looked into Google Trends data from the last 16 years. The researchers found searches for anxiety have increased to record highs in March at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

People searched for terms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Panic attack
  • Signs of anxiety attack
  • Anxiety attack symptoms
  • Other similar combinations of these words.

The study suggested the searches were 11% higher than usual.

“In practical terms, over the first 58 days of the COVID-19 pandemic there were an estimated 3.4 million total searches related to severe acute anxiety in the United States. 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, a principal scientist at the Institute for Disease Modeling, said in a statement, CNBC reports.

Specific dates showed a jump

The report found that there were jumps during specific days and events, according to CNN. The dates included:

  • March 16 — When social distancing guidelines were added in the U.S.
  • March 29 — When social distancing guidelines were extended.
  • April 3 — When President Donald Trump announced face mask recommendations.
  • April 11 — When the U.S. surpassed Italy for number of coronavirus deaths.