Internet Addiction and Depression Linked

The internet has risen from a rudimentary and sometimes-useful tool to a significant staple of modern life, business, and entertainment. Scores of people of all ages incorporate internet use into their daily lives in many ways. Some people, however, may find it difficult to extricate themselves from the internet, spending the majority of their time online and neglecting other important parts of life in favor of staying inside with the computer. In such instances, thoughts and feelings of depression may become especially prominent, and a study just published by a team at Leeds University in the UK has shown that internet addiction carries with it a high risk of developing the mental health concern.

The study took place on the internet itself, gathering participants from around the web and directing them to a self-reporting survey. The survey asked respondents about the time they spent on the internet, what sorts of sites they tended to frequent, and how they felt emotionally. Participants spanned a wide age range from sixteen to fifty one, and a small number reported levels of use and behaviors that corresponded with internet addiction; slightly over one percent of participants exhibited this trait. Those who did, however, were indicated for depression at a rate five times higher than other respondents.

Stopping short of suggesting that internet use in general leads to mental health issues, the researchers noted that the replacement of face to face relationships, sexual encounters, and other experiences with online interaction may be responsible for promoting depression in many clients. The team also noted that the origin of the issue is unclear –that is, whether depressed people were drawn to excessive internet use, or whether generally happy people who used the internet at worrisome rates developed the issue. Further research into this increasingly important are is bound to yield meaningful answers for today’s workers and web surfers.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • minson

    minson

    February 4th, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    addiction of the internet is hurting a lot of people out there and affecting their productivity in work and in academics as well… what is needed is self-control to try and stay away from using the net for excessive durations…

  • Stuart Kaplowitz, MFT

    Stuart Kaplowitz, MFT

    February 4th, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    I think anything that we spend that much time in/on could be addictive. Usually, we hear the word addiction and we assume to alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. We don’t tend to think of computer time as an addiction but it certainly can be. Stuart A. Kaplowitz, MFT

  • NATALIE

    NATALIE

    February 4th, 2010 at 11:28 PM

    a lot of people are addicted to the internet and do not even know that they are…they are on their social networking site for a major part of their day and check their e mail a million times a day… this can even lead to anxiety and a lot of stress…it also spoils the social life of a person as he/she is not spending enough time with people in the real world due to being too involved in the virtual world.

  • bonnie s

    bonnie s

    February 5th, 2010 at 7:40 AM

    While a part of me is surprised there is another part of me that is not shocked at all. Anyone who has so much time that they are spending on the internet has to be running away from reality for some reason. They are seeking something that they have not been able to find in real life so anything that you want can be found online, or so they think.
    I find it sad when the only relationships that some people are able to have are those that they discover in chat rooms, seedy or not. It is like they can’t face the pain or the reality of the here and now so they go online become someone else and escape from it all.
    All of this makes me even more edtermined to keep close tabs on what my own kids are doing online and how this may be affecting their behavior.

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