What are the signs and symptoms of internet addiction?
Like many other compulsive behaviours, internet addiction is associated with a range of symptoms, which can have a profound and long-lasting impact on lots of different areas of your life.
At Life Works, we recognise that each individual is unique and as such, are committed to delivering individually tailored internet addiction treatment. This bespoke approach means that you will be empowered to identify the reasons why your addiction developed in the first place, before taking steps to overcome your unhealthy behaviours and make a full recovery.
As well as spending an excessive amount of time online for non-work reasons, the following are all signs that you, or someone that you know, may be struggling with compulsive internet usage.
Behavioural/social symptoms of internet addiction:
- Spending most of your waking hours on the internet
- Feeling as though you have lost control over how much time you spend online, and finding that you’re unable to log off, no matter how much you might want to
- Continuing to spend time online, despite the negative effects that this has had on your life
- Being online for longer than you had planned – you frequently find that hours and hours go by without you even realising
- Strained or ruined relationships as a result of your constant internet use
- Poor performance and/or attendance at work, as being online has taken over your life
- Avoiding contact with family and friends, leading to social isolation
- Concealing the amount of time you spend online from family members and loved ones
- Denying that you have a problem, to yourself and others
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities that you previously enjoyed
Psychological symptoms of internet addiction:
- Using the internet in order to alter low mood, deal with difficult emotions or to mask underlying symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress. The ‘feel good’ chemicals that are released in the brain when you’re online can lead you to build a tolerance to this
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, irritability and restlessness when you are unable to use the internet or spend time online for as long as you want to
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Memory problems
- Inability to track the passage of time when you are online
- Exacerbation of any existing mental health problems
Physical symptoms of internet addiction:
- Sleep deprivation due to spending time online late at night
- A lack of interest in personal hygiene or grooming
- Aches and pains from lack of movement
- Poor nutrition
- Weight loss or gain
- Dry eyes from constantly staring at a screen
What are the long-term effects of internet addiction?
Internet addiction can also result in a whole host of long-term negative effects such as:
- Strained or ruined relationships
- Family breakdowns
- Job loss and unemployment
This page was reviewed by Steve Clarke, Hospital Director, (MSc, NCFED) in 2019 and is scheduled to be reviewed again in 2021.