Google searches for mental health related issues drop dramatically during summer months. This is according to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
John W. Ayers, PhD of the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University explains, “The Internet is a game changer. By passively monitoring how individuals search online we can figuratively look inside the heads of searchers to understand population mental health patterns.”
The research draws on Google’s public database identifying and following mental health questions in Australia and the United States between 2006 and 2010. All questions relating to mental health were recorded and categorized by type of mental illness.
All mental health searches in both the United States and Australia were 15-42% lower in summer than in winter.
This includes searches related to OCD, schizophrenia, suicide, ADHD, anxiety, eating disorders, depression, and bipolar disorder. Read the specific statistics here.
It’s encouraging to note that John W. Ayers also speculated that the difference might be due to vitamin D!
“It is very exciting to ponder the potential for a universal mental health emollient, like Vitamin D (a metabolite of sun exposure). But it will be years before our findings are linked to serious mental illness and then linked to mechanisms that may be included in treatment and prevention programs,” said Ayers. “Is it biologic, environmental, or social mechanisms explaining universal patterns in mental health information seeking? We don’t know.”
At least they are speculating.
Summer months also inspire more physical activity, more fruits and vegetables, and more social activity. All of these are proven mental health boosters.
Why not incorporate the best of summer into your winter? Supplement vitamin D. Make sure you stay involved socially. Find winter-friendly physical activity and keep up with your veggies!
Of course, getting your vitamin D level checked is a good thing to do at any time of the year.