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Google Search For ‘Panic Attacks’ And ‘Anxiety Attacks’ Surge Due To COVID-19

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Monit Khanna
Monit KhannaUpdated on Aug 25, 2020, 11:37 IST

COVID-19 has caused severe damage not just the lives of the people who got COVID-19 but also people who were worried that they’re going to catch it.?

And a recent study has shown that COVID-19 has caused anxiety and panic attacks among individuals all over the world.?

am I having a panic attack Unsplash

This is according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, where it has found that many people experienced anxiety or panic attacks during the initial days of the pandemic, based on what people searched on Google.?

Researchers looked at search queries that included ‘panic attack’ or ‘anxiety attack’ specifically in the US from January 2004 to May 2020. Many people searched for “am I having a panic attack” or “signs of panic attack”.?

Most experienced the frequency of such searches in the US skyrocket after the nation surpassed China in number of cases (on March 26) as well as Trump declaring the outbreak as a national emergency. The spike came back to normal levels by April 15 through the end of the study.?

According to Dr Benjamin Althouse, a Principal Scientist at the Institute for Disease Modeling, “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.”

am I having a panic attack Getty Images

Researchers call for setting up hotlines where people suffering from panic attacks can call and get appropriate treatment, just like suicide helplines. Dr. Derek Johnson, a Research Fellow in the UCSD Department of Medicine said, “Similar hotlines should be rolled out nationally and prominently featured in the search results of those seeking help online. Similar applications to suicide have had tremendous benefits on public health and saved lives.”

Co-author Professor Mark Dredze, of Johns Hopkins University, said, “The value of monitoring queries goes beyond acute anxiety. For instance, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we first detected spikes in shopping for unproven therapies and shopping for guns using similar methods, and these can be further extended across public and mental health topics.”

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