It may turn out that investing all that time on facebook and blogging might have adverse affects on your mental health. In a recent study out of the UK published in the journal of Psycopathology, it was revealed that excessive internet usage may be linked to depression. This new form of “internet addiction” may be adversely affecting young people (ages 16 and up) for the escapism that the internet allows. In a survey of 1,319 people aged 16 to 51, about 220 were classified as “internet addicted”, which is considered being online to the point where it affects your daily activities. The term internet addiction is not a recognized as a clinical mental disorder, but some researchers are still working on developing a standard diagnostic criteria.
By replacing actual human interaction with online chats, and gaming, people may become more and more cut off from their community. In turn, this social isolation may contribute to depression. People that are obsessed with their online world, may choose surfing the web over sleep, and use the internet as a means to escape. Excessive time online can cause numerous work, school, health and financial problems. Additionally, some studies show internet addicts have a higher propensity for other types of addictions such as gambling, cybersex, online shopping, and alcoholism.
The question remains though: are the people depressed because they are constantly on the internet or are they on the internet because they are depressed?
If you find yourself spending too much time online, try balancing your time online with healthy off-line activities. Set a rule, no surfing the web past 10 pm, to make sure you get a good nights sleep. Maybe try volunteering, which will get you out of the house and has been shown to help with symptoms of depression. Finally, if you think you or a loved one may be addicted to the internet, try taking this free internet addiction test… available online, of course.