Searches for suicide declined 24 and 29 percent during U.S. and Australian summers and anxiety searches had the smallest seasonal change down 7 percent during U.S. summers and 15 percent during Australian summers.
While some conditions, such as seasonal affective disorder, are known to be associated with seasonal weather patterns, the connections between seasons and a number of major disorders were surprising. "We didn't expect to find similar winter peaks and summer troughs for queries involving every specific mental illness or problem we studied, however, the results consistently showed seasonal effects across all conditions even after adjusting for media trends," said James Niels Rosenquist, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
"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."
"Our findings can help researchers across the field of mental health generate additional new hypotheses while exploring other trends inexpensively in real-time," said Benjamin Althouse, a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and researcher on the study. "For instance, moving forward, we can explore daily patterns in mental health information seeking maybe even finding a
|Contact: Brianna Lee|
Elsevier Health Sciences