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Computer/Internet Addiction Symptoms, Causes and Effects

The Internet has made life a lot easier by making information more
accessible to all and creating connections with different people
around the world. However, it has also led a lot of people to spend
too much time in front of the computer, so much so that it becomes
the center of their lives. This can lead to an Internet or computer
addiction.

Computer/Internet Addiction Symptoms, Causes and


Effects
An Internet or computer addiction is the excessive use of the
former or the latter. The latest edition of the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) actually includes it as
a disorder that needs further study and research. In a publication on
the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, the
study, which was conducted by the Department of Adult Psychiatry
in the Poland Medical University, showed that Internet addiction was
seen to be quite popular and common among young people,
especially those who were only children. In fact, every fourth child is
addicted to the Internet. This is an alarming statistic that needs to
be addressed as soon as possible.

Are There Different Types of


Computer or Internet Addictions?

Internet or computer addictions manifest in several ways that cover


various degrees and areas of Internet usage. They are the following:

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Information overload. Too much online surfing leads to decreased productivity at work and
fewer interactions with family members.

Compulsions. Excessive time spent in online activities such as gaming, trading of stocks,
gambling and even auctions often leads to overspending and problems at work.

Cybersex addiction. Too much surfing of porn sites often affects real-life relationships.

Cyber-relationship addiction. Excessive use of social networking sites to create relationships


rather than spending time with family or friends may destroy real-life relationships.

These are the most commonly observed types of Internet addiction.


If you or someone you know is suffering from this kind of addiction,
you dont have to face it on your own. We can help you. Just call 1888-997-3147 at any time to speak to one of our trained advisors.

What Causes an Addiction to


Computers or the Web?
Whenever Internet addicts feel overwhelmed, stressed, depressed,
lonely or anxious, they use the Internet to seek solace and escape.
Studies from the University of Iowa show that Internet addiction is
quite common among males ages 20 to 30 years old who are
suffering from depression.
Certain people are predisposed to having a computer or Internet
addiction, such as those who suffer from anxiety and depression.

Their lack of emotional support means they turn to the Internet to fill
this need. There are also those who have a history of other types of
addiction, such as addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex and gambling.
Even being stressed and unhappy can contribute greatly to the
development of a computer or Internet addiction. People who are
overly shy and cannot easily relate to their peers are also at a
higher risk of developing a computer or Internet addiction.

What Are the Signs of an Online


Addiction Problem?
An addiction to the Internet is manifested in both physical and
emotional symptoms; however, these specifics may vary for each
person. These are basically warning signals that an addiction may
be developing. If you feel that you or a loved one has these
symptoms, it is not yet too late. All it takes is a phone call to 1-888997-3147 and we can help you.

Emotional Symptoms of Online


Addiction
The following symptoms are typical of online addicts:

Feelings of guilt

Anxiety

Depression

Dishonesty

Euphoric feelings when in front of the computer

Unable to keep schedules

No sense of time

Isolation

Defensiveness

Avoiding doing work

Agitation

Physical Symptoms of Online


Addiction
The following symptoms are characteristic of someone who uses the
computer for a very long period of time:

Backache

Headaches

Weight gain or loss

Disturbances in sleep

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Blurred or strained vision

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of


an Online Addiction
The short-term effects of an online addiction include unfinished
tasks, forgotten responsibilities and weight gain. Long-term effects
are seen more in the physical symptoms such as backache, neck
pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and vision problems from staring at

the screen. It can also lead to bankruptcy, especially if the time


spent online is focused on shopping, gambling and gaming.
According to Oberlin College of Computer Science, aside from being
dependent on the Internet, addicts may develop technostress
wherein they internalize how a computer works, such as accelerated
time and perfect results. It can also cause social withdrawal, feeling
more at ease interacting with people online rather than in person.

Is There a Test or Self-Assessment I


Can Do?
A lot of studies and surveys are being conducted to measure the
extent of this type of addiction. Dr. Kimberly S. Young has created a
questionnaire based on other disorders to assess levels of addiction.
It is the Internet Addict Diagnostic Questionnaire or IADQ. Answering
positively to five out of the eight questions may be indicative of an
online addiction. Here are the questions:

Are you preoccupied with using the Internet? Do you think about your previous or future online
activity?

Do you have the need to be online longer to be satisfied?

Have you made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to cut back, stop or control your Internet
use?

Do you become moody, restless, irritable or depressed when you stop or decrease your
Internet use?

Is your time spent online longer than what you originally planned?

Did your online use negatively affect a significant relationship, education, career or job?

Do you conceal the extent of your Internet usage from your therapist, family or others?

Does the Internet serve as an escape from problems or relief from a bad mood?

Medication: Are There Drug Options


for Internet/Computer Addictions?
These addictions may be triggered by underlying emotional
disorders such as depression and anxiety, so medications used for
those conditions can be given in the hope that treating the
underlying cause will cause a cessation of the Internet or computer
addiction. These medications are antidepressants and anti-anxiety
drugs.

Drugs: Possible Options


When the addiction gets out of control, medications are sometimes
needed to keep Internet addicts from harming themselves by
staying online too long. Escitalopram is a drug option that has been
shown to be effective for Internet addiction, according to studies by
Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Medication Side Effects


As with all other medications for psychological disorders, taking a
medication for online addiction may cause adverse side effects. Its
important to consult with your doctor regarding any potential side
effects prior to starting any medication.

Antidepressant Drug Addiction,


Dependence and Withdrawal in Online
Addicts

Taking an antidepressant for an online addiction may also lead to


dependence on this medication. Withdrawal from an antidepressant
should always be gradual and under medical supervision as is done
with people who are being treated for depression.

Medication Overdose
The taking of medications should always be monitored and
dispensed by a qualified health professional. Overdose of these
medications may lead to further complications and can be extremely
harmful.

Depression and Online Addiction


Depression is seen to be a risk factor and cause for online addiction.
Treating depression may lessen the chance that an online addiction
will occur.

Dual Diagnosis: Online Addiction and


Substance Abuse
An Internet addiction and substance abuse often go hand in
hand with each other. Most of the time, those who abuse alcohol or
drugs are those with the predisposition to get addicted to the
Internet as it serves as a means of escape from reality.
A study from Swansea and Milan Universities shows that when
Internet addicts go offline or stop using the computer, they
experience withdrawal symptoms similar to those experienced by
drug addicts. This shows that these addictions are often interrelated.

Getting Help for an Internet Addiction

Any addiction is no laughing matter. It affects not only the addict but
also everyone who surrounds them. If you think you need help for
internet or computer addiction, or someone you know needs
assistance to stop this addiction, we can help. Just call 1-888-9973147. We are here to help you get back on the road to an addictionfree life.
Keep a log of your social media use. "The best way to quit is to first
keep a diary of how much time you spend on social media. After this appalls you, set
limits for yourself and keep techno gadgets away so that you are not tempted. For
example, put away your smartphones when doing your schoolwork." Carole

Lieberman, psychiatrist on the clinical faculty of UCLA's


Neuropsychiatric Institute
Consolidate your social media feeds. "We should be more careful with
what information we let enter our mind, by filtering. I use RSS wherever possible to
decontextualize information and reduce it to a stream that I can manipulate, hide and
show at will. Where this is not possible (Facebook), I try to use a dedicated application
like HootSuite or TweetDeck to put all the social stuff in a single place that isn't my Web
browser. Keeping it in a separate application means I have to make a dedicated effort to
go check, instead of having it ever present." Sean Canton, lead of technical

research for Rokk3r Labs


Delete social media apps from your phone. "Facebook should be

removed from your phone and only accessed from your laptop. This creates a boundary
and allows you to stay focused in your daily routine. Instagram and Twitter can stay if
you're an avid social media person, because those link to Facebook anyway." Zach

Stampone, founding broker of Stampone Group


Set (and follow) time limits on social media use. "Take it in baby
steps. At first, turn off all mobile and computing devices for 6 hours. Then, promise
yourself just 30 minutes of social media time. Set an alarm to know when that time is
up. At the alarm, immediately shut off social media, no matter what you are doing.
Afterwards, go to the movies [or do] something else you enjoy. Every three days, extend
the period without social media by 1 hour, but not the time you are allowed on it.
Eventually, you'll find that you can live with only 30 minutes on social media a day and
have a more productive and social life offline." David Lowbridge, online

marketing consultant forTwoFeetMarketing


Create "digital-free" zones. "Find more meaningful ways to spend time [to]

distract from social media use, and find other methods of validation that are more
mentally healthy. If you are a person that has to use [social media] on the job, then find
ways to create digital-free zones during the rest of your day. Lots of people have to
make Excel spreadsheets at work. It doesn't mean they can't stop themselves from

doing it the rest of the day." Ramani Durvasula, clinical psychologist,

psychology professor and author


Be more mindful of the effects social media has on your
life. "Stay focused on your goal [of reducing social media use] by listing the top three
problems related to use, followed by three potential benefits of cutting back. Keep the
list in a highly visible place, such as on your desk. This will serve as a reminder of what
you are working toward." Jonathan Alpert, psychotherapist and author of

"Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days" (Center Street, 2012)

"If I could boil all this down into one word, it would be 'intention,'" Canton told Business
News Daily. "We generally use social media as a way to get a quick information fix or
social connection when we're bored and/or lonely. There is no intention here other than
distraction. Using social media with intention, to connect meaningfully with the people in
your life and business is fine, so long as it remains meaningful."

Originally published on Business News Daily on May 8, 2012.


Updated Sept. 8, 2014.