Addiction to internet ‘is an illness’

New evidence shows that heavy users suffer isolation, fatigue and withdrawal symptomsTense? Angry? Can’t get online? Internet addiction is now a serious public health issue that should be officially recognised as a clinical disorder, according to a leading psychiatrist.Excessive gaming, viewing online pornography, emailing and text messaging have been identified as causes of a compulsive-impulsive disorder by Dr Jerald Block, author of an editorial for the respected American Journal of Psychiatry. Block argues that the disorder is now so common that it merits inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the profession’s primary resource to categorise and diagnose mental illnesses. He says internet addiction has four main components:

  • Excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives;
  • Withdrawal, including feelings of anger, tension and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible;
  • The need for better computers, more software, or more hours of use;
  • Negative repercussions, including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation and fatigue.

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