The Internet plays a vital role in this technologically advanced world. We use the Internet for simple day-to-day things like finding directions to a destination to staying connected with friends and loved ones through social media. It has become so closely intertwined in our lives that we don’t realise how excessively dependent we have become on it. For some the Internet is a means to an end while for others it can become a compulsive behaviour that results in negative consequences that are characteristic to other addictions such as drugs and gambling.
What is Internet Addiction?
Internet addiction is described as an impulse control disorder, which does not involve use of an intoxicating drug and is very similar to pathological gambling. The habit of Internet users can vary from emotional attachment to on-line friends and spending hours on chat sites and virtual communities to gaming using virtual communities to spending endless hours researching topics of interest or blogging.
What Are the Warning Signs of Internet addiction?
- Poor performance at work or school
- Preoccupation with the Internet – Thoughts about previous on-line activity or anticipation of the next on-line session.)
- Impaired relationships and career opportunities due to increasing amounts of time on the Internet in order to achieve satisfaction.
- Health problems such as sleep depravation and eating irregularities
- Feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression, or irritability when attempting to cut down use of the Internet.
- Use of the Internet as a way to escape from problems or to relieve negative and anxious mood.
- Financial issues due to online spending
What Are The Effects of Internet Addiction?
Just like problems characteristic of other addictions, Internet addiction can result in personal, family, academic, financial, and occupational problems.Internet addiction often leads to seclusion and solitary activity on the Internet disrupting family life and intimacy in relationships. Impairments of real life relationships are disrupted as a result of excessive use of the Internet.
Some addicts create on-line personas or profiles where they are able to alter their identities and pretend to be someone other than himself or herself. Those at highest risk for creation of a secret life are those who suffer from low-self esteem feelings of inadequacy, and fear of disapproval. Such negative self-concepts lead to clinical problems of depression and anxiety.
Many persons who attempt to quit their Internet use experience withdrawal including: anger, depression, relief, mood swings, anxiety, fear, irritability, sadness, loneliness, boredom, restlessness and procrastination. Being addicted to the Internet can also cause physical discomfort or medical problems such as: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, dry eyes, backaches, severe headaches, eating irregularities, (such as skipping meals), failure to attend to personal hygiene, and sleep disturbance.
How Can Someone Get Help?
The first step is to get a comprehensive assessment by a qualified mental health practitioner to determine if you have a problem.
You can start by taking this screening test: Internet Addiction Test
Once an assessment has been conducted, our experienced Psychologists will develop a treatment plan for your Internet addiction tailored to suit the level of care that is most appropriate for you.
For a confidential assessment contact our office to book an appointment with one of our experienced Psychologists today.
Medicare rebates are available. You will need a referral from your doctor.