Excessive Internet use leads to depression
Some researchers from Australia and China say that they discovered the fact that spending a lot of hours per day surfing the Internet could lead to depression. This isn’t just one study, but many studies that show the link between the illness and the pathological Internet surfing. Also, the excessive Internet use itself comes as a result of anxiety and depression, like a self medication or a manifestation of a state of mind. But, in reverse, the pathological Internet access leads to depression or other mental problems on people that are initially healthy.
Lawrence Lam, an epidemiologist for the Notre Dame University in Fremantle, Australia and a colleague of his, Zi-Wen Peng from the SunYat-Sen University in Guangzhou in China wanted to see what really happens. They have used a debate on more than 1000 students from Guangzhou and have analyzed the Internet use and mental illnesses over a nine months period.At the beginning, 6 % of these students were pathologically surfing the Web, as appeared from their answers in a 20 question survey than studied the Internet addiction.
They were feeling moody, nervous and uncomfortable if they weren’t at the computer.
After nine months, the researchers measured the symptoms of depression and anxiety for all the participants and they found that those who said they were addicted to the Internet at the beginning were now 2.5 times more likely to be depressed than those who weren’t. This was the fact also with students who did not show signs of being depressed to start with. On the other hand, the researchers found no connection between the Internet use and anxiety.
Here’s what Lam wrote in an email discussing the facts: “This study has a direct implication on the prevention of mental illness among young people. The results indicate that people who use the Internet pathologically are most at risk of mental problems and would develop depression when they continue with that behavior.”
But the study did not show why the Internet excess leads to depression. Maybe because the pathological users become more isolated from other people around them, which can lead to or harden the depression, even those the study doesn’t offer enough evidence. It could also be the fact that people that use the Internet excessively are already predisposed to depression, biologically or socially and that the Internet use comes as a pass time when they don’t have friends or family around. Lam admits that they did not take this factor into consideration, although the team took into account the baseline of the symptoms in depression.
This kind of use of the Internet could be the first sign of depression according to Lam, so it could be an useful way to identify the young people, especially the teens who might be at a huge risk. Lam says: “It is because this sort of behavior may be a manifestation of some underlying problems that they are more insidious. Even mentally healthy young people may succumb to depression after a long exposure of problematic use of the Internet, so the mental-health consequences of problematic Internet use for those who have already had a history of psychological or psychiatric problems would be more damaging.”
It is also an important alarm signal that shows the fact that parent must monitor their children’s online stay, not only for what they are accessing but also for how long they are doing it and what it might represent for their mental condition.11