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Blue bird flu: Social networks addiction is ‘chronic disease,’ psychiatrists say

Published time: May 15, 2014 16:17
Reuters / Ognen Teofilovski

Reuters / Ognen Teofilovski

Constantly checking your Facebook and Twitter accounts? Internet addiction has long been disputed as one of the mental disorders of our age – now scientists warn that social networks overuse is a serious illness demanding treatment.

The issue is being discussed at the World Congress of the World Association for Dynamic Psychiatry (WADP) taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia.

All kinds of addictions are chronic recurring diseases, says Evgeny Krupitsky, chief drug therapist for the Leningrad region.

"They are illnesses the same as peptic ulcers, hypertonia or diabetes, and treatment is a long process, sometimes lifelong, combining personalized methods of drug therapy, psychotherapy and rehabilitation," Krupitsky told the forum.

Another issue discussed by the congress participants is wrong treatment for internet addictions. Scientists say that usually people who develop such disorders go to psychologists for help rather than medics.

But according to Aleksandr Kibitov, the head of a molecular genetics laboratory, social networks dependency works the same as alcohol, drug and toxic addictions with the only difference being a 'non-chemical nature.' He points out that genetic markers of the internet and social networking addictions are 80 percent the same as markers for alcohol and drug addicts.

Defining the nature of compulsive internet use is not the only problem.

Kibitov says that behavioral addictions, such as pathological gambling, internet addiction disorder and compulsive buying disorder are more difficult to study, because there is no way of doing laboratory experiments with animals.

It’s hard to imagine a mouse addicted to social networks,” he said.

Internet addiction studies have developed as part of broader research on technology addiction, dating back to the 20th century featuring obsessions with radio and television.

Excessive internet use was first named a disorder back in the mid-1990s, and since then researchers have taken the matter seriously. Internet addiction disorder may be revised as an actual mental health disorder, but - although mired in controversy - it didn't make it to the latest edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Comments (10)


Mr. Deaver 17.05.2014 05:13

Once again the US has been found out! It's nefarious plot to addict the world to social media began with ARPNET and has culminated with the Internet we have today. As usual the US is responsible for this new world ailment. When will they stop innovating and developing new concepts. Oh, the horror!


MrX 16.05.2014 13:34

Peter Anderson 15.05.2014 22:21

Psychiatry is built on a pack of lies. They give out drugs for a chemical imbalances of the brain, ever heard of a blood test that can prove a chemical imbalance of the brain?


I agree. The "chemical imbalance" theory is a lie.
Psychiatry is not based on science. They think of themselves as hammers, and everything looks to them like a nail. In the end, they want to "treat" everything with brain disabling drugs and tell everyone how they saved them. Such a bunch of charlatans.


Enki40 16.05.2014 10:47

Vera Gottlieb 16.05.2014 09:05

Call me old-fashioned, but I manage to live very well without these 'most have' gadgets. From the very beginning my gut instinct told me to stay away from this 'social media' - it is used to spy on us and I was right.


I agree. Was phone and e-mail not enough? We have hundreds of unnecessary social media sites/apps. Personally, I'd keep only Skype as the real breakthrough - along with phone & e-mail and actually speaking face to face, this is enough for communication, surely. Too much technology pulls you away from nature.

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