Skip to content

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Internet Addiction: Ruining Lives?

Spouses, Friends See It First, Suffer Most

Looking for Trouble

If you've said it too many times, "Come to bed, it's 2 a.m.," you may be living with an Internet junkie. Here are symptoms of a serious problem:

  • They have a preoccupation in which the Internet becomes "irresistible."
  • Using the Internet for longer periods than planned. "They say they'll be off in an hour, but three hours later they're still at it," says Shapira.
  • Preoccupation causes significant problems in relationships, work, or other important areas of functioning.
  • They try to cut back but can't.
  • They have excessive thoughts about it.
  • They get a sense of tension or arousal before doing it, and get pleasure afterward -- much as kleptomaniacs feel after lifting something.
  • Their other responsibilities, such as paying the bills, get neglected.

All this rings true for drug and alcohol addiction, too, says Kristin Kassaw, MD, associate director of the Baylor Psychiatric Clinic in Houston. "It would take something like a 12-step program to change the behavior," she tells WebMD.

Getting Help

In fact, therapy does work to curb the problem, Shapira says. Cognitive behavioral therapy -- which involves learning how to deal with feelings that lead to excessive Internet use -- helps people control their urges and manage their time better, he says.

Medications can help, too. "If depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder is involved, when the mood gets stabilized, it will have an affect on impulse control," he says.

Loved ones are always the first to identify this problem -- those glued to the screen rarely recognize it in themselves, Shapira tells WebMD. "Interpersonal relationships are the first to suffer."

If you're concerned about a family member or friend, talk to them about it and express concern about Internet addiction. Then help them find a psychologist, he advises.

1|2

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
 
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
 
slideshow fetal development
Slideshow
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
Article
 
What Causes Bipolar
Video
Woman trying on dress in store
Slideshow
 
pregnant woman
Article
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
Video
 
healthtool pregnancy calendar
Tool
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Video