Internet Use Disorder: Internet Addiction?

Nov 19, 2012

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Internet addiction is one step closer to being recognized as a real disease. Internet Use Disorder has been suggested as a new disease to add to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V).  Researchers say that it needs to be studied more before it can actually be added, but with the discovery of a gene that could be related to internet addiction, it’s looking likely.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, a person with IUD will experience many of the classic symptoms of addiction: preoccupation, withdrawal symptoms, tolerance, loss of other interests, unsuccessful attempts to quit, and use of the internet to improve or escape dysphoric mood.

People with internet addiction show changes in their brains. Many of the changes are similar to the changes that occur in the brains of people addicted to cocaine, heroin, special K, and other substances. In addition, dopamine production is changed and even impaired. There have been studies that show that people with depression tend to surf the internet more, which furthers the cycle of despair as they get addicted to the internet in addition to being depressed.

There are no formal treatments for IUD yet, but they will certainly come if this disease is indeed included in the DSM-V. It will be hard to treat, because for most people, there’s no way to make a clean break from the internet. Many people legitimately need to use it throughout the day for work or school. Some researchers say that cognitive behavior therapy, which helps to replace negative and unhealthy thought patterns with healthy ones, might be helpful in managing this disease.

If you are concerned about the amount of time you’re spending online, you can use Net Nanny to set time limits on how long you can surf the web.

I work for ContentWatch and all opinions expressed here are my own.