Millions of people love the summer months. Between the beaches, beers and bathing suits, summer is the perfect time to kick back, relax and soak up the sun. A beautiful summer day is enough to lift the spirits of even the moodiest of men, but could it also bring people with mental health problems relief from their symptoms?
Seasonal depression is a common occurrence. While the shorter and colder days of winter leave people riddled with the symptoms of depression, the shift towards the winter months also brings on the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and eating disorders such as anorexia.
The science of seasonal depression and other mental health problems is simple. It relates to not only to warmer weather but also the natural phenomenon of increased sunlight. Here to help you overcome seasonal depression and other mental health problems, we introduce interesting Google statistics that suggest increased sunlight can literally and figuratively brighten your day.
Google Statistics for Seasonal Mental Illness
Google is the most popular internet search engine in the world. The complex search engine provides insight into anything you can imagine. Simply insert a search term and Google supplies the answers. Google even offers some excellent insight into the theories of not only seasonal depression but also seasonal mental illness as a whole.
According to recent studies conducted by team of researchers from the University of Southern California, Google search queries in America for mental illness rose 14 percent in January. The seemingly obvious conclusion is that the colder, shorter days of January lead more people to seek information on mental illness. Google search queries for mental illness also rose 11 percent in Australia for the month of July, suggesting a similar connection between winter months and seasonal mental illness. Winter months in Australia arrive in March.
Seasonal depression is not the only interesting insight provided by Google. Google searches for schizophrenia, anorexia and bulimia also rose a staggering 37 percent in the winter months while searches for ADHD climbed 31 percent. Still, Google provides even more insight into mental illness, particularly in the difference in search volume between seasonal depression (and other mental health problems) and anxiety.
While the cold winter months undoubtedly increased search volume for seasonal depression, OCD, schizophrenia, anorexia, bulimia and ADHD, search volume for anxiety increased only slightly during the winter months as compared to the summertime. The simple conclusion is that the changes in season may not impact people with anxiety.
The Mental Illness Search Query Theory
There is an interesting theory behind the apparent increase in search queries for mental illnesses during the winter months. For one, Google is simply the world’s most relied upon health resource. The complex nature of seasonal depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental health problems may also cause people to conduct rigorous online research.
Adding to the mental illness search query theory is the stigma of mental illness. Most people with seasonal depression and other mental health problems are more inclined to investigate their problems privately on the internet, as opposed to speaking openly about it with a complete stranger.
Finally, Google is filled with tons of free information. The search engine simply provides a great alternative to people who are unable to afford more traditional methods of seasonal depression treatment. Still, the shift from traditional mental health treatment towards a so-called “Google diagnosis” may create more problems for people with seasonal depression and other mental health problems than it aims to correct.
The Problem with a “Google Diagnosis”
Based on the study, researchers suggest that despite offering a plethora of information on seasonal depression and other mental health problems, Google often fails to answer the question of “why” such mental health problems occur. Seasonal depression, OCD, schizophrenia and eating disorders are uniquely human conditions that often require a human (and not a search engine) to solve them.
Seasonal Depression and Mental Illness Treatment
In light of this groundbreaking study, we hesitate to point you to Google to search for ways to treat seasonal depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and the host of mental health problems associated with the cold winter months. You still may be inclined to search Google for mental health tips (chances are you even found Breathe Into the Bag through a search engine) but we highly recommend speaking with a mental health professional for serious mental health problems like seasonal depression.
Aside from traditional treatment for seasonal depression and other mental health problems, a few lifestyle changes can help cope with the seemingly sad winter months:
- Spend at least 30 minutes each day outside.
- Set a timer on a light to go on early in the morning in the bedroom.
- Use a dawn simulator for a more naturalistic artificial dawn.
- Take daily walks outside.
- Increase indoor lighting with regular lamps and fixtures.
A Friendly Reminder
Although these simple lifestyle changes can help you beat the winter blues, the help of a mental health professional is highly recommended for anyone suffering from seasonal depression, OCD and other mental health problems.
Let us know, do the cold winter months bring you added depression and sadness? Share your thoughts in the comments below.