January 19 marks Blue Monday, supposedly the unhappiest day of the year.
By analysing the latest statistics from Google, the researchers discovered people in the UK are making 27 searches a minute for ‘depression’, 22 a minute for ‘stress’ and 21 a minute for ‘anxiety’.
That equates to one person searching ‘depression’ every two seconds in the UK.
The surprising figures show around 1,171,770 searches are made in the UK every month around ‘depression’, 939,820 around ‘stress’ and 907,620 around ‘anxiety’.
In an average month during last year, 49,500 searches were made by people wanting to take a test to see whether they were depressed.
The findings offer an insight into the mental health of the nation, following Office for National Statistics’ figures which show that more than 15 million working days per year are lost in sickness absence to stress, depression and anxiety.
Over the last two years, January has experienced a spike in search volumes across all three search terms.
But in 2014 there was also a significant increase in search volumes across ‘depression’ and ‘stress’ through October, November and December, suggesting 'Blue Monday' isn't limited to January.
Dr Jeanette Downie, deputy medical director and consultant psychiatrist at Glasgow's Priory Hospital, said the number of people searching for mental health diagnoses online highlighted the stigma around mental health. It shows that people to turn to the internet rather than seeking confidential, personalised face-to-face help from an expert.
"I see some highly successful people who are terrified of others finding out that they are depressed or stressed, and feel they have absolutely ‘failed’ by being ill. They often wait until they are really unwell before they come to the Priory for help,” she said.
“People simply wouldn’t feel the same concern when telling friends or colleagues about a physical illness, like a heart condition”.
Dr Downie added that by using the internet to self-diagnose an illness, people risked causing themselves unnecessary worry by misdiagnosing themselves, and then potentially treating themselves wrongly, thanks to information they had found online.
If you're worried about depression, you should visit your GP.
But in the meantime, Dr Sandi Mann, senior psychology lecturer at University of Central Lancashire, gives these 10 top tips for beating Blue Monday:
1. Focus on the good in your life – make a list of the positive stuff.
2. Nostaligia is good - when we are depressed we tend to remember the bad times not the good, so get the photos out and remember the good times too.
3. Appreciate the small stuff - notice and enjoy the little things in life such as a crisp day, the smell of wet grass, a hot bath etc.
4. Get active - depression makes us lethargic so go for a walk or a swim.
5. Schedule - it's easy to just stay in bed when we feel down, so avoid this by time-tabling your day, even if it is only filled with trips to the corner shop.
6. Avoid social media - Facebook can make us depressed as we see what amazing lives everyone else appears to have.
7. Remember that there are always others worse off than you - there's nothing like social comparison to make you feel better about your own life.
8. Smile - the very act of smiling can make us feel happier in a kind of ‘feedback loop’, our brain notices us smiling so thinks we are happy.
9. Laugh - watch a funny film or programme to lift your spirits.
10. Get social support - getting together with a friend or two over a coffee can make the world of difference.