In these digital days, it's a common refrain and probably a pretty accurate one, as well: If you want to know what someone's all about just check their search history.
Now applying that concept to personal health and what might be ailing them, what's the No. 1 concern Americans are trying to tame?
A recent analysis of health-related topics searched on Google Trends over the past year revealed that on a state-by-state basis, stress was the most-queried condition, topping the charts in 10 of the 50 states.
While some states produced results that appear intuitive – for instance, sniffles led all searches in the northern state of Vermont, while morning sickness came in highest in Utah (which has the highest rate of births per 1,000 in the United States) – stress was a common No. 1 across the nation from sea to shining sea. It led searches in Oregon, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Massachusetts (map courtesy Medicare Health Plans).
Stress was also the most Googled symptom, overall, in the U.S.
Now, is this scientific in any way? No, not at all. But the analysis, performed by Medicare Health Plans, does provide some insight into what health concerns are top of mind in different parts of the country. The top causes of stress cited by MHP are employment, money, crime, violence and the state of affairs in politics.
"Stress can affect people of all ages, genders and circumstances and can lead to both physical and psychological health issues. By definition, stress is any uncomfortable 'emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological and behavioral changes,' " according to the Ameican Psychological Association. Further, "an extreme amount of stress can have health consequences and adversely affect the immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems."
If you feel afflicted, here are some recommendations from the APA on how to manage your stress.
As for surprises in this search study, one has to wonder what's going on in states like Wisconsin and South Carolina, where the most-Googled health symptom was the color of fecal matter. Wisconsin residents wanted to learn about why it's light, while South Carolinians sought information on it being dark and green.