Searches relating to panic and anxiety attacks surged to an all-time high between mid-March and mid-May: up to 52 percent. Though not surprising, it could encourage search engines to prioritise resources for those seeking help.
As the coronavirus pandemic began its infiltration of the United States, Google reported an all-time high of ‘panic attack’ and ‘anxiety attack’ searches.
In a new study from the University of California San Diego, researchers analysed how often these phrases were searched for between January 2004 and May 2020.
After considering population growth and increase in internet usage over the past 20 years, the data indicated searches relating to panic and anxiety attacks surged to an all-time high between mid-March and mid-May: up to 52 percent.
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This was at a time when social distancing guidelines were introduced in the US, and concerns seemed to be due to “anxiety about the disease and its societal fallout.”
The study notes internet searches have returned to typical levels “perhaps because Americans have become more resilient to the societal fallout from COVID-19 or because they had already received whatever benefit they could from searching the internet.”
It also notes that while it cannot confirm any search was specifically linked to a panic or anxiety event, “it provides evidence of the collateral psychological effects stemming from COVID-19.”
Researchers hope this sort of data will alert search engines to prioritising resources for people in search of support at times of crises.
What does a panic attack feel like?
Many people will experience one to two panic attacks in their lifetime and they can come on suddenly without much warning.
Though not life-threatening themselves, they can be scary and affect your quality of life if they become frequent.
Here are the most common symptoms:
- Sudden, impending sense of danger or doom.
- Rapid heart rate/pounding sensation in chest.
- Shaking or trembling.
- Feeling of loss of control.
- Shortness of breath or tightness in throat.