A new study finds that Internet addicts and drug addicts experience similar withdrawal symptoms.
Researchers from Milan and Swansea universities found that going cold turkey from an Internet addition can trigger withdrawal symptoms similar to drug users in withdrawal. Scientists examined Internet use and mood and anxiety levels of 60 subjects in the U.K. averaging around 25 years old.
Those in the high-Internet-use group suffered huge dips in mood after logging off from their computers, especially when compared to the low-use group. "When these people come off-line, they suffer increased negative mood -- just like people coming off illegal drugs like Ecstasy," says researcher Phil Reed of Swansea University in the UK.
"These initial results, and related studies of brain function, suggest that there are some nasty surprises lurking on the net for people's wellbeing," he adds.
The results of the study also showed that heavy Internet users tend to be more depressed and show higher levels of autism traits.
"These results corroborate previous reports regarding the psychological characteristics and traits of Internet users, but go beyond those findings to show the immediate effect of the Internet on the mood of those who are addicted," Reed says.
The upcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), considered the bible of psychiatry, will include Internet use disorder as a condition worthy of further research, reports WebMD.
The study, announced this week, is published online in PLoS One.
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