[Mental Health Study] Social Anxiety Searches Soar 2,000% In The Past Four Years
May 17, 2023
As May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s explore search and traffic data to reveal how US and global consumers are approaching the topic of mental health.
Mental health has entered the national and international conversation in recent years, with more celebrities being vocal about their struggles and more brands surfacing to help people manage their mindset and psychological health.The pandemic, for all of its downsides, also helped bring the topic into the limelight.
From January 2020 to March 2023, US Google searches for “mental health” grew by 22%, showing an increasing awareness and interest in the topic.
As May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s explore search and traffic data to reveal how US and global consumers are approaching the topic of mental health, uncover which specific questions are becoming more popular, and better understand where people are turning online for mental health support.
What are the most-searched mental health disorders and symptoms?
From April 2019 to March 2023, the top-searched mental illness in the US was bipolar disorder, followed by post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder, each bringing in thousands of monthly average queries. The top 10 most-searched conditions also include other lesser known illnesses, such as panic disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.
These findings differ slightly from the most commonly searched conditions on a global scale. From data spanning April 2019 to March 2023, the most frequently searched condition around the world is post-traumatic stress disorder, followed by bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (which ranks fourth in volume for US queries).
It’s clear that conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and bipolar are capturing lots of interest online and have officially entered the sphere of public knowledge domestically and abroad.
As more conditions come into the conversation, Americans are also searching for the signs and symptoms of these disorders. From April 2019 to March 2023, the most common symptom-related US searches were:
Where in the world is mental health most talked about?
By looking at the search volumes of mental health topics from a global perspective, we can use average monthly values to uncover how countries’ interest levels stack up.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the country with the highest search volume for “mental health” from April 2022 to March 2023 is the US, boasting more than double the volume of the country claiming second place: the Philippines.
After that, we see the United Kingdom, India, and Indonesia, which each has more than 60,000 average monthly searches for mental health.
Here are the ten most-searched countries with “mental health” from April 2022 to March 2023, followed by their average monthly search volumes:
Which mental health search topics are spiking in popularity?
Raw search volumes let us gauge the scale of topics online. But to identify new ideas that are quickly rising in popularity, we must determine which search volumes have grown most dramatically over a set period of time.
For example, from March 2020 to March 2023 in the US, searches for “what is the best mood stabilizer for anxiety” increased by over 7,000%. Plus, “what is the best vitamin for stress and anxiety” grew by over 4,000%, showing that people are considering all types of medications and supplements to help calm their nerves.
Does the trend of increasingly seeking anxiety resources hold steady when we look at global search growth? It turns out yes, although the question gets more specific. In global searches from March 2020 to March 2023, “what is the maximum dose of propranolol for anxiety” increased by over 65,000%.
In addition to seeking information on this prescription medication, global searches for “what is the best vitamin for stress and anxiety” increased by over 4,000% YoY, consistent with the rate of US growth for that subject as well.
Other similarities emerge when we compare the fastest-rising US searches with global data.
For instance, from March 2020 to March 2023, US searches for “early signs of bipolar disorder in young adults” grew by over 5,000%, and “bipolar disorder symptoms in females” increased by over 2,000%. In global searches over that same time period, queries for “20 surprising physical symptoms of bipolar disorder” rose by over 12,000%, signaling growing attention to the signs of bipolar disorder.
To review, here are the top trending US searches from March 2020 to March 2023:
“What is the best mood stabilizer for anxiety” (increased by 7,100%)
“Early signs of bipolar disorder in young adults” (increased by 5,800%)
“What is the best vitamin for stress and anxiety” (increased by 4,300%)
And here are the top trending global searches from March 2020 to March 2023:
“What is the maximum dose of propranolol for anxiety” (increased by 65,900%)
“20 surprising physical symptoms of bipolar disorder” (increased by 12,900%)
“What is the best vitamin for stress and anxiety” (increased by 4,650%)
How do the most popular searches change when we look further back in time?
We can also expand our growth window by going back a year to get a wider view of patterns and see which fast-rising topics have been in the mix for longer.
From April 2019 to March 2023, there are a handful of similar trends across US and global data. In US searches, “what is the main cause of bipolar disorder” increased by 875% over those four years, while global searches for “early signs of bipolar in young adults” grew by over 7,000%, and global searches for “do I have bipolar test” rose by over 2,000%.
In addition to increasing attention to bipolar disorder, US and global data from April 2019 to March 2023 also reveals specific panic and anxiety-related topics on the rise.
In both US and global data, searches for “social anxiety disorder therapies” grew by over 2,000% from April 2019 to March 2023. Over that same time period, US searches for “how to help panic disorder” increased by 267%, and global searches for “panic disorder treatment medication” shot up by over 1,800%.
One significant difference in US vs. global data from April 2019 to March 2023 is that, within US searches, “seasonal affective disorder self care” grew by over 7,000%, while the topic doesn’t even place in the fastest-growing global search trends. This could mean that seasonal affective disorder has more awareness and attention in the US than other countries.
Who among the stars is just like us?
Another difference between US and global data comes down to one of the fastest-growing worldwide mental health-related searches: “Selena Gomez bipolar disorder,” which increased by over 12,000% in global searches from April 2019 to March 2023 but doesn’t even place in US rankings.
But Gomez isn’t the only celebrity garnering attention online for mental health advocacy as well as for sharing her struggles.
In US searches from January 2020 to March 2023, all sorts of A-listers show up in search trends with “mental health.” For example, searches for “Cara Delevigne mental health” grew by 2,500%, “Jennifer Lawrence mental health” increased by 400%, “Will Smith mental health” grew by 367%, and “Liam Payne mental health” increased by 300%.
This growth demonstrates that fans are increasingly eager to understand and be supportive of the mental health conditions that their favorite actors and musicians face.
What resources do people explore to help address their mental health?
So we’ve covered some of the most common — as well as the fastest-growing — mental health topics across both US and global searches. Another dataset we can bring in to analyze online behavior around mental health is website traffic, examining which sites people visit the most.
From January 2020 to March 2023 in the US, the top-visited therapy resource site was healthline.com, followed by webmd.com, mayoclinic.org, and psychologytoday.com.
Looking at mental health organizations with the highest search traffic in the US, we see apa.org come out on top, followed by sleepfoundation.org, drugabuse.gov, and samhsa.gov.
We can also ask the same question on a global scale, where the mental health organization with the highest search traffic from January 2020 to March 2023 is who.int, the World Health Organization. After that comes apa.org, followed by mhanational.org, which places sixth in US search traffic rankings.
Global traffic data can also help us identify the most popular meditation apps, a growing phenomenon helping people center themselves with the power of their own mobile devices. Worldwide, the apps with the most web traffic are gaia.com, calm.com, and headspace.com.
Over the past few years, searches related to anxiety, bipolar, and panic disorder have been on the rise, both in the US and globally. While the stresses of everyday life can be a lot to handle, as more resources emerge for mental health support and the topic continues to be de-stigmatized, we can work toward a world where everyone has access to the mental health care they need to feel their best.
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