Gene Expression

SAD in Google Trends

I was looking for the term “Depression,” in the economic sense. But look at the clear seasonal trend in search for the term:



  1. #1 John Hawks
    December 14, 2009

    It’s the academic year; Intro Psych students doing reports, etc. I got the same pattern for fossil hominid species.

    Of course, it could be kids worried about their dorm roommates…

  2. #2 Meng Bomin
    December 14, 2009

    It’s even more interesting if you look at the trends by region. Australia, which ranks highest on the list of “regions” (countries) searching for depression seems to be lowest during both summer and winter solstices as well as having smaller troughs around the equinoxes

    The United States, which appears to be behind Australia in search density but also probably dominates the total volume of searches matches the overall trend pretty well.

    Also interestingly, if you don’t capitalize “depression”, that strange peak at the end of 2007 goes away.

    Most of the other countries have too much noise to see a trend as clearly and if you break it down further to sub-national divisions, you also run into a noise problem.

  3. #3 Mxh
    December 14, 2009

    Interesting that it is trending down over the years.

  4. #4 miko
    December 14, 2009

    Cute how the interest in depression goes away for Christmas. There must be some confusion in comparing northern and southern hemispheres for SAD. The Australian semi-annual cycling is interesting, and is also true of NZ.

  5. #5 agnostic
    December 14, 2009

    Second what John Hawks said. You see this pattern for anything that undergrads or even high school students would have to write about. The key is the brief plummeting of interest after winter finals are done but before the next semester really kicks in.

    As a check, compare that Google Trends search for the US vs. Australia. If it’s weather-seasonal, they should be mirror images. If it’s academic-seasonal, they should be pretty similar. Turns out it’s just like the US.

  6. #6 emblazoned
    December 14, 2009

    Razib, are you ok? Having a blue moment?

  7. #7 razib
    December 14, 2009

    lol. the weather isn’t the best right now, but i was actually looking for the great depression, not depression.

  8. #8 Larry
    December 16, 2009

    The chart is completely meaningless. If you look for a term like ‘food’ then it has the same pattern. All it shows is that people are less likely to search with google in the summer, because they are outside. And less likely at Christmas, because they are with their family.

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