Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Internet Addiction Compulsive Impulsive Disorder Recognition

Discussed with a guest on Fox News America's Newsroom

E-mailing, Texting Excessively? You May Be Mentally Ill
Tuesday, March 25, 2008,2933,341434,00.html

Recognize Internet addiction as a mental illness, MD urges
Users experience cravings, withdrawal, psychiatrist says
Sharon Kirkey, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Monday, March 17, 2008
Compulsive e-mailing and text messaging could soon become classified as an official brain illness.

An editorial in this month's issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry says Internet addiction -- including "excessive gaming, sexual pre-occupations and e-mail/text messaging" -- is a common compulsive-impulsive disorder that should be added to psychiatry's official guidebook of mental disorders.

Like other addicts, users experience cravings, urges, withdrawal and tolerance, requiring more and better equipment and software, or more and more hours online, according to Dr. Jerald Block, a psychiatrist at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Dr. Block says people can lose all track of time or neglect "basic drives," like eating or sleeping. Relapse rates are high, he writes, and some people may need psychoactive medications or hospitalization.

Dr. Block says about 86 per cent of Internet addicts have some other form of mental illness, but that unless a therapist is looking for it, Internet addiction is likely to be missed.

He argues that the phenomenon warrants being included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, psychiatry's official dictionary of mental illnesses. The next edition is due out in 2012. A draft is expected to be available for public comment next year.

But some say the research into Internet addiction is in its infancy and they wonder how doctors decide when computer use crosses the line from the normal to the pathological.

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