Does Internet Addiction Cause Other Mental Health Issues?

Internet addiction is becoming a concerning mental health issue in the field of treatment. Though severely less harmful than addiction to drugs like heroin which can cause sudden fatality, internet addiction is creating a significant compromise in the quality of people’s lives. Just as the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous has been adapted and adopted to various uses for various issues, the need for treatment and recovery is not exclusive to addiction. Since the availability of the internet made it’s way into household computers, internet use has gone up. Far beyond the days of dial up and instant messenger, today the world is available at our finger tips. Smart devices like phones and tablets give us the opportunity to be “connected” all day long. Problematically, being continuously connected to the internet tends to result in being disconnected from real life. Among other symptoms of internet addiction, excessive time spent online results in broken relationships with real people as opposed to people found online. Simultaneously, digital platforms like social media channels were supposed to be the bridge connecting people all over the world. Multiple studies have found a direct correlation between the amount of time people spend online and their feelings of loneliness off line. The answer is clear: the world wide web causes someone to have a very small world of their own.

Recently, CBS News reports, a study done among college students found that out of 254 freshmen, 140 met the criteria for either internet addiction of problematic internet use. The students’ mental health was evaluated. In addition to meeting the criteria for diagnosable internet addiction, many students had signs of depression and anxiety. Additionally, students displayed characteristics of impulsivity, high levels of stress, and difficulty with attention.

Depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are three of the most commonly co-occurring mental health issues with substance abuse and addiction. Internet addiction has been shown to work similarly in the brain to the way addiction to drugs and alcohol does. It is unsurprising that internet addiction in youth would result in symptoms of such mental health disorders.

While this study focuses on a small sample of a particular population, the indications are rather large. Internet use is growing out of control for most people- meaning that many are finding themselves unable to control their internet use once they open up a web browser or social media app. Alcoholism and addiction are often characterized by the inability to have just one drink. If someone addicted to the internet is unable to watch just one video or write just one post, there may be deeper mental health issues at hand.

Aurora Recovery Center welcomes men and women who are seeking treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We offer multiple levels of treatment including sober living and transitional housing. By combining evidence based treatment with spiritual development, Aurora provides a holistic and effective approach to recovery. For more information call xxx-xxx-xxxx today.