Teen Internet addicts ‘more likely to suffer depression’

August 3rd, 2010 - 2:59 pm ICT by ANI  


Washington, Aug 3 (ANI): A recent study has revealed that
teenagers who use the Internet pathologically are more likely to develop
depression than those who don’t.

Pathological (uncontrolled or unreasonable) use of Internet
has been associated with relationship problems, physical ill health, aggressive
behaviors and other psychiatric symptoms.

Researchers studied pathological Internet use and later
mental health problems among 1,041 teens in China (average age 15).

Participants were assessed for depression and anxiety using
previously validated scales. They also completed a questionnaire to identify
pathological Internet use, including questions that reflect typical behaviors
of addiction.

At the beginning of the study, 62 participants (6.2 percent)
were classified as having moderately pathological use of the Internet, and two
(0.2 percent) were severely at risk.

Nine months later, the adolescents were re-assessed for anxiety
and depression; eight (0.2 percent) had significant anxiety symptoms and 87
(8.4 percent) had developed depression.

The risk of depression for those who used the Internet
pathologically was about two and a half times that of those who did not.

“This result suggests that young people who are
initially free of mental health problems but use the Internet pathologically
could develop depression as a consequence,” the authors said.

“As we understand that mental health problems among
adolescents bear a significant personal cost as well as costs to the community,
early intervention and prevention that targets at-risk groups with identified
risk factors is effective in reducing the burden of depression among young
people,” they continued.

Lawrence T. Lam of the School of Medicine,
Sydney and Zi-Wen Peng of SunYat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China prepared the
report, which was published in the journal Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

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