Anxiety levels among Chinese people are soaring according to a ranking released by a leading search engine, and experts are urging the country's residents to relax.
According to a recent "worry ranking" released by Baidu.com, China's top search engine, netizens have asked about 16 million questions related to their worries on Baidu Knows, a platform where Internet users can ask questions and answer those posed by others. Of the questions posted, only around 8.9 million have been answered, and more than 2 million people visit the platform every day for answers to their problems.
The "worry ranking" compares China's most anxious cities, and also breaks down netizens' top concerns by gender, marital status, sexual orientation, and other criteria.
Among the queries on Baidu Knows, interpersonal relations are the major focus, with frequent questions from couples looking for relationship advice, women worried about their relationships with their mother-in-laws, single people dealing with the pressure to marry and gay people who are confused about their sexuality.
Netizens who are worried about love and relationships are concentrated in big cities, where people are more likely to be under high pressure. Beijing has China's highest number of residents reporting trouble in this category, with Shanghai and Zhejiang Province coming in second and third respectively, according to Baidu.
The ranking has caused quite a stir on the Internet, with netizens wondering what has created such "Werther's Sorrows" in the fast-developing country.
Zhou Keda, deputy director of the Institute of Social Sciences at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, said that modern residents face a lot of job and life pressure in an increasingly fast-paced world, and that love and relationship problems are only one symptom of a broader problem.
"Chinese people are facing pressure in fields like education, medicine, employment, housing and so on," Zhou said.
Psychological worries could possibly lead to physical disorders, according to Wen Wensheng, chief physician with the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi Medical University in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
"For example, an overly busy working schedule and too much pressure could result in sudden hearing loss, and it could become permanent if not treated in time," Wen said.
Zhou Keda said that worries and anxiety problems cannot be solved with a quick fix, and that personal psychological adjustment is extremely important.
"What's effective is for people to develop proper values, while following a healthy daily schedule, so that they can take some time out to relax and get rid of all the things troubling their minds," he said.