Internet and social media consumption are now normalised, to the point where both have become an integral part of day-to-day life. Whilst online accessibility is useful, whilst it can be both educational and connective, and whilst it’s found to increase dopamine levels for users, it’s also influencing one of the most disruptive behavioural addictions.

Internet addiction is a problematic behavioural issue. It’s where exposure is a necessity, where panic is encountered if exposure is cut off, and it’s where scrolling becomes part and parcel of daily activity.

On the surface, frequent online activity may seem harmless, as there are benefits linked to its availability and scope. Yet underneath the features and the perks, our mental health is seriously suffering

Here’s the impact of internet addiction on our mental health, along with available support and treatment here at Nova Recovery, to detox from the internet. Reach out if the internet or social media are disrupting your wellbeing and quality of life.

 

What is Internet Addiction?

Internet addiction is a behavioural condition. It’s both taught and accepted behaviour through the digital landscape. Whilst some people are at higher risk of developing an internet addiction, caused by genetics, environments, and social norms, both the internet and social media are addictive stimuli.

Understandably, the internet has its benefits. Its accessibility is vast, the ease that it offers to everyday life and its connective elements are all assets. Yet beyond the benefits, there are grave pressures, there are ideologies and there are addictive features that are causing unhealthy digital relationships.

Any form of addiction is impactful and possibly damaging. Yet an internet addiction is a concerning diagnosis as it’s also a catalyst for further behavioural and mental health problems. Here’s the impact of internet addiction on our mental health, disrupting our sleep, our relationships, and our outlooks.

 

Signs of Internet Addiction

Many of us will rely on the internet for information, to make purchases or to simply connect with others. All are now normalised behaviours. Yet for others, the internet will be a necessary outlet to consume, due to the feelings that it provides.

Signs and symptoms of internet addiction include:

  • Spending a long time on the internet
  • Isolating and withdrawing from physical life
  • Prioritising online connections and engagements
  • Feeding into online ideologies
  • Constantly checking devices
  • High screen-time
  • Difficulties to withdraw from internet exposure
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue, due to consistent exposure
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Memory problems
  • Diminished interpersonal connections
  • Depression and anxiety from internet exposure
  • Poor mental health
  • Prioritising online searches and activities
  • Social isolation
  • Additional problems, linked to the internet, such as gambling, excessive shopping, comparison disorder

Reasonably, some of the above signs and symptoms are linked to further illness and mental health problems. Yet once experienced alongside compulsive and consistent internet exposure, an addiction diagnosis will be likely.

 

Impact of Internet Addiction on our Mental Health

An internet addiction, alone, can be extremely damaging. Yet the impact of internet addiction on our mental health is highly concerning, found to result in even greater problems.

 

  • Sleep Issues

Excessive screen time and the urge to view a device will naturally disrupt sleep. If both behaviours are continuous, sleep cycles can consistently be disrupted, found to cause insomnia and other sleep disorders.

The brain will continuously be active, doing overtime to fulfil the internal reward system. Difficulty sleeping can increase the risks of poor mental health, can decrease overall performance and interest, can cause other health issues, and can reduce the quality of life.

 

  • Causes of Stress

As an internet addiction is disruptive and can place added pressure on finances, relationships, and general performance, it is known to also cause stress.

Although stress is a common feeling, which can be managed, chronic stress can develop, impairing judgment, outlook, rationality, health, and behaviours. For example, high internet consumption is correlated with shopping addictions.

Through compulsive shopping, financial worries are likely, which will naturally increase stress levels. Stress can then fuel further consumption and purchases, causing a complicated vicious cycle.

 

  • Mental Health Crisis

Through the internet and social media access, dopamine levels are found to increase. Behavioural addictions are linked to the internal reward system, which is why pleasure, happiness and rewards are felt through online activity.

Yet with the good, comes the bad, which damages the stability of our mental health. Although increased levels of happy chemicals are experienced, the natural ability to produce them, for some, will begin to reduce. Those fulfilling feelings can also be addictive, which are attached to internet activity, making it difficult to disassociate.

There’s also so much negativity on the internet that expectations and ideologies can diminish. Viewing fake forms of happiness can be very difficult to digest, a catalyst for depression, comparison disorders and eating disorders.

 

Treating both Addiction and Mental Health Issues

Through an independent diagnosis or through secondary mental health issues, treatment will be a necessity. A digital detox will be essential to cut off the influence of internet exposure. However, alongside withdrawing, it’s likely that therapy will be beneficial.

To uncover the cause of addiction, to learn about addiction and to avoid future relapse, therapy sessions will be recommended through rehab. At Nova Recovery, we’re a private hospital specialising in mental health treatments, advocating therapy for its benefits.

Alongside a personal plan to reduce your reliance on the internet, the likes of anxiety treatment, stress treatment and depression treatment may be required. If the internet has affected your mental health, further therapy sessions and coping strategies will be recommended.

The impact of internet addiction on our mental health can be long-term. If you’re struggling, reach out to our team to discuss your treatment options. Self-help will also be recommended, such as monitoring your screen time, focusing on real-life, nurturing physical relationships, and practising self-care.

Whilst the internet is a justified outlet, it can also be an unhealthy and damaging platform. Be aware of the signs, symptoms, and possible impacts of excessive internet exposure.

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