Anxiety, Stress, and Sadness: The Consequences of COVID-19 on Mental Health in Latin America

We examine whether the COVID-19 stay-at-home order affected mental health throughout Latin America. Using Google Trends data and an event-study design, we explore the effect of country-specific stay-at-home orders on mental health searches, including the following words: depression, anxiety, sadness, insomnia, stress, and suicide. Our results show three main patterns. First, searches for insomnia peaked but then declined. Second, searches for stress, anxiety, and sadness increased, but surprisingly, there was no change in depression. Third, suicide-related searches increase directly after the stay-at-home order but then return to baseline in subsequent weeks. Combined, our results suggest that mental health worsened following the COVID-19 pandemic.