No, it’s not your imagination. Anxiety is a growing, modern curse
Updated: Aug 26
By now, we’re all familiar with how ubiquitous Google is, and how well it documents and serves our society’s needs to scratch our digital “itches.”
We may not realize how well it also catalogs the state of our mental health.
Google provides some handy tools that document the relative strength of certain search terms by geography. I decided to do some quick research on where it ranked a number of mental health concerns, including “anxiety”, “depression” and a number of others, as searched by users in the U.S.
The tale of this tape is dramatic and cause for concern for us. Since 2004, when Google started keeping these records, the strength of “anxiety” as a search term has almost tripled in volume. According to Google’s metrics in 2004, anxiety had a relative strength of 33. Last month, the strength of that term had risen to 88.
If we take users’ search intent as a measure of of the mental health of our culture, it’s clear that our population, or at least the population that uses Google in the digital domain is increasingly concerned with anxiety, and - this is my own conclusion - increasingly concerned with trying to understand or resolve it. How else might we explain the explosion, in just a few short years, in the search behavior of Americans centered on the term “anxiety?”
Anxiety takes many forms, and affects people at all ages and stages of life. Americans are increasingly troubled by this scourge, as Google’s data reveals. In our work, we’ve helped clients who’ve been disabled by anxiety, suffering panic attacks, mental and physical distress and other crippling impacts. Most didn’t know how why they’d been laid low by this modern scourge, and even less how much power they have to restore their own life by applying modern tools and understanding to this pervasive and thoroughly modern condition.