Study Links Depression to Heavy Internet Use

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Psychologists from the Leeds University in the U.K. say there is a strong link between depression and Internet addiction.

The study, published in the journal Psychopathology, surveyed 1,319 individuals aged 16 to 51 (average age is 21) and found 1.2 percent or 8 respondents suffering from both Internet addiction and depression.

It is unclear to the experts, however, whether excessive online presence triggered the depression or if it was the other way around. They acknowledged that majority of web users do not have depression.

The psychologists drew their conclusions from the results of an online questionnaire wherein British respondents were queried as to the frequency and purpose of their Internet use. They were also quizzed if they were suffering from anxiety or depression.

According to the study's lead author, Catriona Morrison, the findings reinforce "public speculation that over-engaging in websites that serve to replace normal social function might be linked to psychological disorders like depression and addiction."

These Internet addicts spent a great deal of time visiting porn sites and chat rooms and playing online games, Morrison said. They were also found to have moderate to severe depression compared to average web users.

The findings by Morrison's team were met with skepticism by some quarters who questioned the validity of the study. It is difficult to measure Internet addiction, they argued, if there's such thing as Internet addiction in the first place.

For years, Internet addiction disorder or IAD has been the subject of debate, with some medical experts dismissing the ‘addiction' tag as misleading. It's more like a compulsion, they said, and should not be categorized in the same league as smoking or drug dependence.

Internet addiction, otherwise referred to as pathological computer use or problematic computer use that already interferes with daily life, is a disorder coined by Ivan Goldberg, M.D. The Computer Addiction Study Center at Harvard University's McLean Hospital estimates that 5-10 percent of Web users exhibit symptoms of Internet addiction.

Other notable psychologists who have championed Internet addiction as an actual disorder were Virtual Addiction author David Greenfield of the Center for Internet Behavior and Kimberly Young, director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery.

IAD is a huge problem in Korea where 30 percent of individuals under 18 or 2.4 million are heavy Internet users, and in China where 10 million teenagers meet the IAD diagnostic criteria.

Psychiatrist Paul Latimer, author of the book Mental Health Matters, observed that people who get hooked on the Internet usually have poor social skills or are dissatisfied with their real world lives. The Internet provides an environment where they can freely interact with people and derive a sense of satisfaction that they are doing something worthwhile.

Dennis Schooley is the Founder of Schooley Mitchell Telecom Consultants, a Professional Services Franchise Company. He writes for publication, as well as for and, in the subject areas of Franchising, and Technology for the Layman., 888-311-6477,

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