Treating Internet Addiction

The Internet is a wild and wonderful place which has forever changed the way we live, learn, and work – but when a person can’t find a balance between their time online and their time offline, it can mean problems for their mental health.

For some people, going online becomes an addiction.

First, you need to know that there is no one definition for internet addiction.  However, it is generally agreed that people who are addicted to the Internet (1) have trouble filling personal and professional obligations because of their online activities, and that (2) their use of the Internet causes strain on relationships with family and friends. People who are addicted to the Internet also often experience negative emotions or withdrawal symptoms when their Internet access is restricted.

Internet addiction may also be called computer addiction, compulsive Internet use, Problematic Internet Use (PIU), Internet dependence, or pathological Internet use. Researchers estimate that 6 percent of people are addicted to the Internet. Some professionals classify Internet addiction as an obsessive-compulsive disorder, while others liken it to an impulse control disorder.

Therefore, there is no one specific treatment for Internet addiction.

Internet addiction is treated in a few ways:

  • Talk therapy is almost always incorporated into the treatment of Internet addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and group therapy are common.
  • Medication may be used to help manage symptoms of underlying mental illness and control intrusive thoughts about going online.
  • Exercise may be incorporated into Internet addiction treatment to ease the effects of reduced dopamine in the brain resulting from restricted Internet use.
  • Internet addiction treatment aims to create boundaries and balance around Internet use rather than eliminating it entirely. However, if there is a certain app, game, or site that seems to be the focus of the addiction, stopping its use may be part of treatment.

Learn more about Internet addiction here.

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