Internet Addiction Disorder: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

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Internet Addiction Disorder: Signs, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Staying awake till 4 am, scrolling through your Instagram feed to find a silly meme that you can share with your friends, finding another meme from the same page, and falling into the wormhole of posts is a journey in itself. Only to have it all end with you falling asleep with your phone planted on your face. 

With the increase in access to the internet, over-usage has become problematic. Initially, the internet was only used for tasks that were difficult to accomplish humanly but now, people are constantly using the internet, are connected, and are dependent on the virtual world for even the most basic need such as buying groceries. 

Internet Addiction

What Is Internet Addiction?

An umbrella term for what refers to a compulsive need to spend a great amount of time on the internet to a point where other areas of your life are affected is what internet addiction is all about. As time passes, you tend to become more dependent on the internet just to experience the same high. 

The condition is also known as compulsive computer use, pathological internet use, and internet dependence. Although internet addiction is not yet included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, studies suggest that the condition is recognized as either an obsessive-compulsive disorder or an impulse control disorder. 

What are Different Types of Internet Addiction?

Internet Addiction

Now there is a range of behaviors that can be recognized as internet addiction. Here are a few common ones-

Cybersex Addiction

This form of internet addiction involves the compulsive need to view pornography, adult websites, sexual fantasy chat rooms, and webcam services. Obsessing over such services or materials can lead to one’s ability to form real-world relationships. 

Net Compulsions 

Online activities such as gambling, trading stocks, auctions, shopping, and more fall under this form of addiction. If ignored, such behavior can take a toll on one’s financial stability and obligations. Spending large sums of money on easy-to-access online gambling or shopping platforms can increase the risk of addiction and also damage relationships. 

Cyber Relationship Addiction

People who face online relationship addiction are deeply invested in finding and sustaining online relationships to the point where they may neglect offline ones. Such relationships are typically formed in chat rooms or other social networking sites that allow users to easily connect with others. Unfortunately, many individuals engaging in such relationships hide their real identity, something we commonly call catfishing. 

Compulsive Information Seeking

The possibility of finding information efficiently and effectively has made some individuals develop a compulsive need to gather and organize data. This form of behavior can impact productivity and even lead to job loss. 

Gaming Addiction 

Obsessive gaming has become a problem among different age groups. From Fortnite to League of Legends, people spend hours gaming which impacts their productivity and overall well-being. 

What are the Signs & Symptoms of Internet Addiction?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, internet addiction is identified by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Spending excessive amounts of time on the internet
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (anxiety, moodiness) when you can’t be online and fantasizing compulsively over using the internet
  • Failing to control the usage of the internet 
  • Using the Internet to cope with stress or negative thoughts 
  • Neglecting other areas of personal, social, and occupational life
  • Withdrawing from relationships and other obligations 

What Causes Internet Addiction?

Although there is no definitive cause for internet addiction, several factors may contribute to it. These include-

  • Underlying mental health conditions like anxiety and depression
  • Genetics 
  • Environmental factors

In addition to this, aspects of one’s personality, shyness, and the component of instant gratification provided by the internet can also contribute to addiction. 

Who is More Prone to Experience this Addiction?

Studies show that certain factors can increase the risk of developing addiction. These include-

  • Personality traits: People with certain traits of shyness, impulsivity, introversion, and sensation-seeking behavior can show more susceptibility to addiction. 
  • Escapism and stress relief: In situations of high stress, using the internet to cope or escape from reality can lead to addiction. 
  • Easy access and availability: Having easy access to the internet through various devices can lead to excessive internet use. 
  • Gaming enthusiasts: Online gamers tend to spend hours on the internet. For some, it may be competitive and for others, it can be leisurely. 
  • Age- Adolescents are immersed in technological devices for various reasons (academics, social networking, etc) which is why they tend to succumb to internet addiction.

What are the Effects of Internet Addiction?

Academic and professional negligence: 

Students overly indulging in the Internet may end up spending the majority of their time on social networking sites than doing their homework or preparing for an exam, resulting in poor academic performance. The same can also happen in the case of an adult who instead to finish his/her task spends time on the internet, leading to poor productivity and concentration and may also cause failure in their career.

Dependency on the virtual relationship: 

A 2010 article in The Guardian talks about how a couple was so indulged in their internet game of raising a virtual daughter that their negligence toward their actual daughter resulted in the death of their daughter. This may be an example of a severe case of internet addiction but it does highlight the possible devastation. Living in the virtual world may often result in negligence of the real world around you.

Psychological problems: 

Neglecting the real world can lead to loneliness and eventually depression. A UK study showed a group of internet addicts among internet users were found more like to be depressed.

Physical effects: 

Continuously sitting in front of a laptop or desktop can cause severe back pain, vision difficulties, and neck pain and can make us lethargic.

What are Treatments Available for Internet Addiction?

Internet usage and addiction in today's world is an increasing concern. Though the Internet is helpful in many aspects when used excessively and in a wrong way can damage lives. Beware before it overrules your lives. Seek professional help at Cadabam’s Hospitals for assistance. Assessment tests, psychotherapy such as cognitive behavior therapy, and support groups are available for treatment.

Further making a few lifestyle changes suggested by experts can help you navigate through addiction and improve your overall wellbeing. Here are a few practices that have proven to do the same. 

  • Appreciate the people and events in real life. The above-mentioned 2010 article showed how not being in touch with the real world can affect us. So scheduling time to spend with friends and family daily can be helpful. Or simply take a walk (without your phone) and interact with your neighbor.
  • Make accessing the internet a little harder such as following a strict priority list or using multiple locks of the system on your laptop or desktop. 
  • Schedule time for using the Internet and use the Internet only at that time. Avoid using phones while doing other things such as dinner, spending time with your children, or when guests are around. This will allow you to use the internet while not letting it interfere with other tasks.
  • Distract yourself by engaging in a task that requires a lot of concentration. Mute the notifications of all the apps on your smartphone.
  • Learn to differentiate between virtual and real relationships. Engaging in hobbies, sports, and other skills that are of one’s interest such as that of painting.

When Should You Seek Help?

We understand that seeking help can be harder in reality than in theory. However, the earlier you reach out to experts and start treatment, the faster you will achieve long-term recovery. Therefore, if you observe any of the following signs, it is advisable to promptly contact a healthcare provider:

  • Excessively using the internet 
  • Continuing to use the internet despite the harmful effects
  • Experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop internet use.

How can Cadabams Help?

At Cadabam's Hospital, a dedicated team of qualified psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and certified healthcare professionals is devoted to providing a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services, with a strong emphasis on safety, effectiveness, and respecting the confidentiality of treatments. 

We take pride in delivering personalized and comprehensive care, catering to each patient's needs from prevention to aftercare. With 24/7 medical support, personalized diet plans, exercise routines, and more, we strive to create a supportive environment that promotes swift recovery and ensures overall physical and mental well-being.

For any mental health-related assistance, feel free to reach out to us at +91 96111 94949 or +91 7353226622.

Internet Addiction


What is the main cause of internet addiction?

Several factors can lead to internet addiction. These include-

  • Underlying mental health conditions 
  • Genetics 
  • Personality 
  • Instant gratification provided by the internet 

How do we stop internet addiction?

Here are a few tips to help you stop internet addiction-

  • Set realistic goals and boundaries 
  • Identify triggers
  • Find alternative activities
  • Limit access
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Disable notifications 
  • Reach out to loved ones 
  • Seek support 

Is internet addiction a real problem?

Internet addiction is a recognized and real problem. Professionals consider it to be associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder or impulse control disorder which indicates the need for treatment. 

How internet affects our mental health?

The internet has several benefits, from providing us with information to allowing us to connect with others. However, excessive use of social media can lead to stress, sleep issues, anxiety, depression, and more. Hence maintaining a balance is essential.

How Cadabam's Help you for Addiction?

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