The researchers found that during the peak of the pandemic, the lowest number of searches related to mental health were in countries with stricter quarantines. The study was published in: Journal of Psychiatric Research.
Researchers used Google search statistics from nine countries: Hungary, India, South Africa, Iran, Italy, Paraguay, Spain, Serbia and Turkey. They examined the frequency of queries involving the words “anxiety,” “depression,” “suicide,” and “mental health.” The data were collected after 5 years of searching. Information on restrictive measures during the pandemic for each country was gathered from Oxford Tracker.
The results showed that longer and more severe quarantines were associated with lower Google searches for terms related to mental health. The term “concern” was most popular before the restrictions and least popular in countries with stricter restrictions on being outside the home. Depression was searched least in countries where all public events were canceled and most in countries that banned school attendance. A low rate of “suicide” has been observed in countries where face-to-face work has been recommended or ordered to be banned, and countries with mandatory quarantines for non-citizens from high-risk areas.
The scientists’ findings make no mention of the strict benefits of strict quarantine for the soul, but the link they show may spur further research in this direction. Using Google statistics in the future can be a useful tool when combined with other data.