“There are several patterns with patients who suffer from Internet addiction, but the main one is that it is combined with other problems,” Dr. Luo adds. “Someone who meets the criteria for Internet Use Disorder also has other mental health conditions that require clinical attention. It’s often [the case that] they have other problems like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders.”
But it’s not just that the Internet offers an outlet for other issues. It can also provide something that’s increasingly elusive: anonymity. Which is kind of ironic, since constant connectivity is one of the ways people become less anonymous.
“It is the anonymous nature of electronic communication where users can use games, social media or online porn to escape problems in their lives,” Dr. Young points out. “It is worse among those with depression, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies.”
Is there any cure for Internet addiction?
Fortunately, it’s very possible to treat Internet addiction. If you feel you might be a problematic Internet user, or know someone who’s suffering, consider seeking a full psychiatric evaluation to see if there’s something else at the root of the problem. A psychologist or social worker might be a good place to start.