Internet and social media addiction is often a sign of other mental health problems

Internet and social media addiction is often a sign of other mental health problems

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Experts are studying Internet addiction and its effects
Today there are more and more people who are dependent on the Internet. Most of the time, this affects young people. Researchers have now found that internet addiction can indicate other serious psychological problems. The results could lead to a new way of treating patients with internet addiction.

Scientists at McMaster University in Ontario have now found that many people with Internet addiction often have other mental health problems. Those who spend a lot of time online may be able to be treated more effectively by a psychiatrist in the future. The doctors published the results of the new study at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology’s (ECNP) annual meeting in Vienna.

Researchers are using Internet Addiction Test (IAT) and a new scale
For their study, the Canadian medical researchers examined the use of the Internet by 254 students at McMaster University in Ontario. The researchers used a so-called Internet addiction test (IAT). This was developed in 1998. In addition, they use their own scale, which is based on new criteria, the experts add to “Medical Xpress”.

IAT questionnaire has problems assessing today's internet usage
Internet usage has changed radically in the past 18 years. For example, more and more people are working online with a computer, participating in media streaming or having accounts on social media platforms, the scientists say. The so-called IAT questionnaire has problems to correctly grasp modern internet usage. Many people who use the Internet frequently but are not dependent on it are wrongly classified, explains Dr. Michael Van Ameringen from McMaster University.

Researchers also looked for depression, anxiety, and stress
With the help of the new screening tool, 33 subjects were classified as internet addicted. 107 participants had so-called problematic internet use, the authors explain. The research team also examined the mental health of the participating students, including signs of impulsiveness, depression, anxiety and stress.

What makes people dependent on the Internet?
Most of the addicted subjects had problems using video streaming and social networking, the doctors explain. Controlling instant messaging tools was also a major problem for these people. Such services are often used by younger people. It is therefore not surprising that more and more young people are threatened with internet addiction.

Effects of Internet addiction
Affected people have significantly more problems performing their daily routines. In addition, there are higher rates of depression, anxiety, impulsiveness and inattentiveness, the experts say. Such people also have significant planning and time management problems, reports Medical Xpress.

Connection between Internet use and mental health found
The excessive use of the Internet is a little-researched phenomenon. Such use of the Internet can lead to compulsive behavior and addiction, the experts warn. The new investigation found only a link between internet use and mental health. A larger study is now needed to properly classify these mental health problems, says Dr. Van Ameringen. Are the problems the cause of Internet addiction or are they the result of excessive use of the Internet?

Further study is urgently needed
The results can have practical medical implications. If a person is being treated for an addiction that instead suffers from anxiety and depression, treatment can go completely wrong. Therefore, this type of treatment will not achieve the desired success. We need a better understanding of this type of addiction and more large-scale studies consisting of a broader, more diverse population, explains Dr. (as)

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