Internet Addiction: The New Mental Health Disorder?

During the day, you probably use the internet several times. Whether it’s to check your email, read an article, or go on social media, you’re online. The internet is omnipresent. Most of us are on it unless we live in a society that shuns technology. The reality is that you don’t have to go online to have fun. There are plenty of games you can play that are not online.

Some people are dependent on the internet more than others. Many of us have to go online for work. There are programs like Zoom where video meetings take place. Many workplaces use apps like Slack to conduct team meetings and allow employees to communicate with each other and their supervisors. The internet can be helpful, but sometimes people use it too much.

It’s sort of like eating too many cookies. A cookie here and there is delightful, but when you’ve eaten the entire box, it can make you sick. The same principle goes for internet addiction and dependence. Not only can being addicted to the internet make you feel unwell, but it can also contribute to feelings of depression. Here’s how internet addiction can impact a person’s life and emotional health.

What is internet addiction?

Internet addiction occurs when a person uses the internet in a problematic way, so much so that it impairs their daily functioning. They find themselves unable to socialize outside of using the internet, and their school and work are impacted. Someone who is addicted to the internet will compulsively use it.

They check their social media several times over the course of an hour. They might find themselves compulsively hitting the Facebook and Twitter buttons on their phone to see if they’ve got notifications. Sometimes people are so addicted to the Internet that they will exit a social situation to go to the bathroom and check their social media.

They’d rather go online than interact with the world. Internet addiction can lead to many different life problems. One of the struggles that people have when they are addicted to the Internet, is that they become depressed because they’re isolated from other people. 

Internet addiction and depression 

Depression is a serious issue that can result in deadly consequences if left untreated. It’s important to learn about depression so that you know the facts. Check out this section of articles on BetterHelp to learn more. An individual who is addicted to the internet may feel like they are fine.

They don’t notice that they’re depressed because they are engaging in something stimulating. Perhaps they are participating in online gaming or compulsively interacting with others on social media. As much as the internet feels “real, “it detaches a person from activities in real life, which can cause depression.

How do you know if you’re addicted to the Internet?

It’s a fine line when it comes to internet addiction. Many of us use our smartphones frequently, but when you’re addicted to the internet, you cannot function without it. Imagine that all the power went out in your house, and you don’t have access to your phone. Your devices are dead.

What would you do? People who aren’t addicted to the Internet could find something to entertain themselves. Perhaps you would read a book or talk to one of your loved ones. Maybe you could participate in a game of Mad Libs.

The problem becomes when you can’t think of anything to do. If you suspect that you would have a panic attack or be incredibly depressed, and you can’t think of anything else to do if your devices were gone, you could have an internet addiction. 

Is the Internet making me depressed?

If you’re constantly using the internet, you may rely on it for things that are unhealthy. People who are addicted to the internet sometimes seek external validation from it. Perhaps you’re constantly checking your social media because you want to see how many times somebody likes your posts or comments on them.

If you get negative feedback from people online, it could affect your self-esteem and make you feel depressed; that’s an unhealthy situation, and you need to find ways for validation that don’t include online friends or people you know on social media. It’s not an abstract concept of “the internet” that you’re addicted to, but whatever the internet is providing you.

Perhaps your self-esteem is boosted by the Internet because you’re receiving positive feedback there, and you can’t seem to get that in the outside world. There’s nothing wrong with getting validation from people online to an extent, but when it becomes the only way that you’re receiving positivity, that is a problem and it could lead to depression.

Stepping outside the Internet

If you want to combat your depression and Internet addiction, it’s time to seek help. You can find a licensed therapist to talk about your internet addiction with and find coping skills that will help you in real life. You don’t have to stop using the internet altogether, but you do need to find ways to connect with people in real-time.

Remember that you are a person who has wonderful qualities, and you can find people who appreciate you outside of the online space. A therapist is someone who can help you find ways to cope with your internet addiction and get better. Don’t be afraid to seek help when you need it because you don’t need to suffer alone.

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com.

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