New England Is the Most Anxious Region, According to Google Search Data
Take a deep breath before you read this: A New York Times analysis says New England is really, really anxious—at least according to Google search data.
Writer Seth Stephens-Davidowitz delved into the nation’s history of anxiety-related searches—everything from “anxiety symptoms” to “anxious at night” and “separation anxiety”—and found that they’ve more than doubled over the past eight years. Some areas, however, seem to be Googling more frequently than others.
The so-called “epicenter of anxiety” was Presque Isle, Maine, according to the analysis. Maine as a whole searched anxiety 21 percent more often than the national average. So much for Vacationland.
The rest of New England didn’t fare much better, unfortunately. Every New England state except Connecticut had search volumes at least 10 percent higher than the national average, and even Connecticut was at least 5 percent above average. That’s a lot of stress concentrated in a small region.
Interestingly, Stephens-Davidowitz found that people looking for information about panic attacks often also searched “opiate withdrawal.” Given New England’s well-documented struggle with opioid abuse, that connection may explain our spike in search traffic.
Google isn’t a perfect measure of how many people actually suffer from a condition, of course, but search and social media data is credible enough that researchers use it with some regularity. Boston Children’s Hospital, for example, has used Google searches and social media activity to track the spread of the flu, and has turned to Twitter data to monitor sleep disorders.
Back to the data. If you’re looking for a place to relax, the report clearly (and perhaps unsurprisingly) favors the West Coast. No state west of North Dakota had a search volume above the national average, and many were considerably below it. Oregon had the most chill, Googling anxiety 26 percent less than the national average.
You can see the full analysis here.