Internet Addiction-A Mental Disorder?

Withdrawal, anger and depression, and social isolation are all classic symptoms of certain addictions. A March 2008 article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, however, added a fourth—a constant need for new and better computer equipment—and ascribed them to a newly

78%Percentage of physicians who say they use the Internet for professional purposes.(PERQ/HCI)

Withdrawal, anger and depression, and social isolation are all classic symptoms of certain addictions. A March 2008 article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, however, added a fourth—a constant need for new and better computer equipment—and ascribed them to a newly minted mental disorder—Internet addiction.

According to Jerold Black, MD, an Oregon psychiatrist and the article’s author, Internet addiction is characterized by excessive gaming, e-mailing, and text messaging, and should be added to the American Psychiatric Association’s Official Manual of Mental Disorders. Dr. Block notes that treatment of Internet addiction is difficult and risky and has a high rate of relapse. He added that the disorder is most common in South Korea, where an estimated 210,000 young people are addicted and require treatment, making in one of the country’s most serious health problems.

Interestingly enough, other research shows that the healthcare industry has been very slow to embrace the Internet and its technology. According to the Center for Health Transformation, for example, 90% of US doctors and more than two-thirds of US hospitals still use paper for patient records. Perhaps they could do with a little addiction.

You doctors can stroll down a different editorial alley at Are We Really That Ill?

“For the majority of physicians to adopt a new technology (ie, the Internet), it must address three major issues: money, hassle, and patient care. And the benefits had better come pretty much in that order.”Physicians Executive