Internet addiction disorder is not an official mental health diagnosis recognized by the DSM-V, but one that is gaining more attention with each passing year. As with any addiction, excessive time is spent performing the activity, to the point of interfering with normal life functions. This can involve watching pornography, social media, gaming, YouTube, blogging, emailing, chatting, etc.
It’s not clear what causes internet addiction in the first place. People who are loaners may have a greater tendency to develop the disorder, because they may naturally gravitate towards the internet due to the lack of socialization in their lives. But the internet is not a replacement for socializing; it can actually lead to isolation and even depression.
Perhaps people with anxiety or depression also have a higher tendency to gravitate towards the internet. The internet becomes a safe haven where they can easily escape their negative emotions, turning what should be innocent internet viewing into a viscous internet browsing cyclone.
As with any addiction, those who are addicted to the internet spend so much time on it, that it starts to impact their lives adversely. Their relationships may fumble, their job performance plummet and their mental heath may hit rock-bottom. And anyone who attempts to help them is seen as the enemy: a classical addiction problem experienced by many families and friends of addicts.
The first step in treatment is for the addict to recognize that he or she has a problem; this applies to any addiction. If the person refuses to accept the fact that they are addicted to the internet, the symptoms will continue indefinitely. A form of psychotherapy known as CBT can also be helpful: changing one’s cognition in order to influence their behavior. But again, the addict must be willing to engage in therapy.
Call it internet addiction disorder, compulsive internet use, problematic internet use or iDisorder, it doesn’t matter. The person must be willing to recognize that they have a problem and must be willing to cut back down on their usage. Most addicts recognize that they have a problem, but the classic immature defense mechanism is applied almost all the time: denial.
When an addict is in denial, they refuse to accept that they have an addiction. Deep inside, they probably know at some level that their behavior is inappropriate, but they will never admit it to themselves or to others. Many people still believe that addiction is just a “personalty thing” that one can get rid of if they just “stop.”
It doesn’t work that easily. Addiction is a mental disorder. Once the mind has been hijacked, it becomes a challenge to salvage it. But it can be done with support and great effort. That is why we need to come together and support all the addicts of this world, regardless of nation, skin color or religious background. This is DSM!
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Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)