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September 11, 2014

What's the most anxious moment of our days?

Daily Briefing

Patients are most likely to experience anxiety—in the form of stress, depression, loneliness, suicidal thoughts, and more—at certain times of day, according to research collected through not-for-profit Crisis Text Line.

Since volunteers at the New York-based crisis counseling center mostly interact with people via text message, they have been able to track data on the 70,000 people that the center has helped in the last year, according to volunteer Darren Mastropaolo. The text message model is particularly popular with teenagers.

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"Think about being in school and being able to text privately on the bus or from the bathroom stall without anyone hearing what you're going through," Mastropaolo told The Atlantic's Olga Khazan. At some times of the day, volunteers may have to text with more than one person at a time as the volume of people seeking help climbs.

Based on their data collection, they found that:

  • Anxiety peaks at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.;
  • Depression peaks at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.;
  • Health concerns peak at 6 a.m. and 1 p.m.;
  • Loneliness peaks at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.;
  • Stress peaks at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.;
  • Substance abuse peaks at 5 a.m. and 7 p.m.; and
  • Suicidal thoughts peak at 6 a.m., noon, and 8 p.m.

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Additionally, emotions seem to occur more often on certain days of the week. For example, Wednesdays are filled with anxiety, and Sundays tend to bring more suicidal thoughts.

Geographically, New Englanders suffer from the most anxiety, while depression is more evenly distributed across the nation, according to the text data. People living in Alabama, Montana, and North Dakota suffer from the highest rates of health concerns. Those in Hawaii, Nevada, and Vermont report the most stress. People in Arkansas, Nebraska, and West Virginia deal with the most substance abuse concerns.

Crisis Text founder Nancy Lublin hopes that the data may help providers understand the "how the vicissitudes of our days affects the nature of our well-being," Khazan writes.

"Imagine having real time data on every one of those issues," Lublin said in a recent TED talk, explaining, "You could inform legislation. You could inform school policy. You could say to a principal, 'You're having a problem every Thursday at three o'clock. What's going on in your school?'" (Khazan, The Atlantic, 9/10).

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