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 Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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