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Insidermedicine In Depth - August 3, 2010 - Internet, Depression Linked

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Published on Aug 5, 2010

Out-of-control use of the Internet may place teens at increased risk for depression, according to research published in the October print issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Here are some typical signs of Internet addiction:

• Inability to control use of the Internet on your own

• Neglecting friends, family, and responsibilities in favor of being online

• Feeling depressed, anxious, or irritable when you are offline

Researchers from the School of Medicine in Sydney and the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle used validated testing tools to assess the pathological use of the Internet among over 1,000 high school students in Guangzhou, China who were aged 13 to 18. Pathological use refers to unreasonable or uncontrolled use that shows signs of addictive behavior. At the time of the initial assessment and then again after nine months, the adolescents were tested for signs of depression and anxiety.

Overall, just over 6% of the adolescents were identified as using the Internet in an unhealthy, pathological manner. These participants were about two-and-a-half times as likely to be suffering from depression at the nine month follow-up period as those who did not use the Internet in this manner. No link between Internet use and anxiety was identified.

Today's research suggests that use of the Internet among adolescents should be monitored and controlled, as unhealthy use may make them vulnerable to mental health problems.

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