Treatment for Internet addiction suggested

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Tel Aviv (Israel) – Is your computer mouse your first thought when you get up in the morning? Are you obsessed with email, MySpace or YouTube? A psychiatrist said that such behavior should be put on the same level with other extreme addictive disorders and be treated as such.

According to Dr. Pinhas Dannon, a psychiatrist from Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, says that Internet addiction should be taken seriously and grouped together with gambling, sex addiction, and kleptomania. In a new report, he describes Internet addiction as a "pathological condition that can lead to anxiety and severe depression."

Internet addiction is currently classified by mental health professionals as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a mild to severe mental health condition that results in an urge to engage in ritualistic thoughts and behavior, such as excessive hand-washing or, in the case of the Internet, Web surfing. This, however, needs to change, Dannon claims. “Internet addiction is not manifesting itself as an ‘urge.’ It’s more than that. It’s a deep ‘craving.’ And if we don’t make the change in the way we classify Internet addiction, we won’t be able to treat it in the proper way,” he said.

According to the psychiatrist, especially teenagers and empty nesters are at risk to suffer from Internet addiction disorder. Diagnosis of form this condition may be difficult, he said, but stated that it will reveal itself through loss of sleep, anxiety when not online, isolation from family and peer groups, loss of work, and periods of deep depression.

Dannon believes that Internet addiction can be treated effectively, if it is viewed as any other extreme addiction. This treatment, he suggests would include medication such as Serotonin blockers and Naltrexone, which are typically used in cases of kleptomania and pathological gambling.

According to Dr. Dannon, Internet addiction is an "inevitable" product of modernization: “They are just like anyone else who is addicted to coffee, exercise, or talking on their cellular phone. As the times change, so do our addictions,” he said.