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People Addicted to Internet More Likely to Suffer From Mental Health Problems

Sep 20, 2016 05:05 AM EDT
Internet use
A new study revealed that internet addiction could be a cause or result of mental health problems.
(Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A new study from the McMaster University in Canada reveals that people who are addicted to the internet may also be suffering from mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

The study, presented at the 29th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) conference in Vienna, suggests that internet addiction could lessen the ability of a person to handle daily routines. Additionally, excessive use of internet is linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, impulsiveness and inattention.

"We found that those screening positive on the IAT as well as on our scale had significantly more trouble dealing with their day to day activities, including life at home, at work/school and in social settings," said Dr. Michael Van Ameringen, lead author of the study, in a press release. "Individuals with internet addiction also had significantly higher amounts of depression and anxiety symptoms, problems with planning and time management, greater levels of attentional impulsivity as well as ADHD symptoms,"

For the study, the researchers measured the internet usage of 254 students at McMaster University using IAT or Internet Addiction Test and a more modern screening test.

Each participant was also asked to take self-reported tests to assess the effect of internet usage to their mental health. The tests were focused on illnesses like depression, anxiety, impulsiveness, inattention, executive functioning and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Among the students, 33 met the criteria of an internet addict based on the IAT. However, the new scale developed by Van Ameringen and his team put the number of students with problematic internet use at 107.

The researchers found that students who met the criteria for internet addiction have significantly higher levels of functional impairment, depression and anxiety symptoms, executive functioning impairments and ADHD symptoms.

With their findings, the researchers noted that additional research with wider and more varied population is necessary in order to determine if the mental health problems were the cause or result of internet addiction.

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