With the age of computer technology, internet based employment and internet based entertainment has taken many of us to a whole new level of understanding the world in which we live. For those individuals still young enough to remember a time without internet service, it is amazing how quickly technology has advanced. With the advancement of internet and Web technology comes the development of an all new mental health epidemic commonly referred to as the internet addiction.
When suffering from an addiction, of any sort, there is an overwhelming and compulsive nature to repeat the same activity, over and over again, often promoted by a chemical change within the brain. Because our brains are equipped with a positive reward pathway, we are positively stimulated when this pathway is activated; known as an impulse-control disorder. Over time, this stimulation of the brain results in a permanent level of brain chemical released resulting in an addiction. Addictions associated with the impulse control mechanism may include food, drugs, sex and, now, internet addiction.
For individuals suffering from internet addiction, the most common symptoms exhibited may include lack of job performance and inhibited social interaction, a pre-occupation with the internet with some addicts searching out methods for obtaining access to the Web at work, at home and when out in public. Often, the pre-occupation with the internet takes over all aspects of functioning with some addicts and, in rare cases, these internet addicts will remain secluded at home without any contact with the outside world.
Although still difficult to diagnose, the common thread with true internet addicts is the tendency to avoid all other areas of functioning. While internet surfing is common, even in large amounts of time, those individuals who choose internet surfing while avoiding essential daily tasks, even sleeping, would most certainly be considered addicts. In addition, the internet addict will show tendency to suffer from co-morbid mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety and may find the internet helps to relieve symptoms commonly associated with these other mental health conditions.
Treatment of internet addiction, like other impulse-control addictions, lies in a firm cognitive behavioral therapy program. To achieve the desired results, the addict must first be assessed to determine if the internet addiction is a co-morbidity with another mental health condition. If so, this co-morbid condition may require medication management as part of the treatment program. A psychologist will outline the various aspects of a cognitive behavioral program but, will most often include items such as reminder cards, support groups and even hypnosis to treat the internet addiction.
If you feel you may be suffering from internet addiction, visit www.netaddiction.com for more information regarding treatment and diagnosis.