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Internet Addiction

Internet Use Disorder (IUD) is on its way to be included as an actual mental health disorder, although physicians researching this subject do say it still needs a lot of additional study. So what are the symptoms of IUD, and maybe more importantly for those of us walking on the edge of this abyss, what’s the treatment? This question assumes all the more importance as more and more of depend on the internet to live our daily lives and function efficiently.

A person with IUD will experience “preoccupation” with the internet or internet gaming, withdrawal symptoms when access to the internet is no longer available, tolerance (the need to spend more and more time on the internet to achieve the same feeling of “good”), loss of other interests, unsuccessful attempts to quit, and use of the internet to improve or escape depression.

Research has shown that people with internet addiction have demonstrable changes in their brains and what is scary is the fact that many of these changes are what you see happening in the brains of people addicted to cocaine, heroin, and other deadly drugs.

What is clear even now is that treatment is not straightforward, since most of us have to use the internet at some level (or even a lot) throughout the day. In this way, it’s a lot like food addiction, which doctors say is the hardest to treat, since you can’t just quit the substance, you have to actually learn how to manage it.

Some of the most promising studies have found that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) might be an effective method to treat IUD. This form of psychotherapy teaches people how to replace the damaging thought and behavior patterns that affect them with healthier, more productive thoughts.

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