Melinda reluctantly got in the car to go to therapy. Her parents had set up the appointment, and they were coming with her. Melinda had been spending a lot of time online, but she felt fine about it. Her parents, however, were concerned. When they sat down with the counselor, Melinda’s parents started. They pointed out how she had lost weight and interest in school and after-school activities. They noted how little she sleeps, and they said they worry about her safe: who is she talking to and meeting? Melinda was irritated. The counselor invited her to share how she saw things differently. Melinda did not want to talk. The counselor asked her parents to give them a few minutes alone. Melinda has had a lot of changes at school. Her closest friends had been excluding her, and she told the counselor about being bullied. Online, she has friends to get it. Melinda spends so much time talking to them because no one else understands. This first appointment was a big step for Melinda. The counselor believes that she does have an Internet Addiction, but her counselor also knows that there are a number of resources and treatment options available to help Melinda recover.
“Turn off your email; turn off your phone; disconnect from the Internet; figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master.” —Gretchen Rubin
More and more, people are struggling to regulate their Internet use. Internet and computer addiction are increasingly causing trouble and disrupting people’s lives. With so much access, it can be difficult to keep the Internet a servant—not a master. And yet, there are effective treatments for Internet addiction. Just like other behavioral addictions (like gambling or shopping), Internet can change an individual’s brain, and treatments work to rebalance the brain.
Thriveworks Knoxville offers appointments for Internet addiction. We are seeing more and more clients who compulsively go online, and therapy has been a part of their treatment plan to regain control.
What Is an Internet Addiction?
The idea that someone could be addicted to the Internet was first suggested by Dr. Ivan Goldberg in 1995. The idea was received as a joke, but as more and more mental health professionals study how people use the Internet compulsively, the condition is no longer seen as a joke but as a serious mental health problem.
By 1998, Dr. Kimberly S. Young had developed criteria for recognizing Internet addiction. An individual who exhibits five of the following symptoms, they may have an addiction to the Internet:
- Being preoccupied with the Internet.
- Increasingly needing to spend time online to feel the same level of satisfaction.
- Repeated but failed attempts to stop or curb Internet use.
- Feeling depressed, moody, or irritable when not online.
- Using the Internet longer than one planned to use it.
- Taking personal or professional risks in order to be online.
- Lying about Internet use.
- Regulating one’s mood through Internet use.
Dr. Young also outlined several ways to use the Internet compulsively that can be considered subcategories of Internet addiction:
- Cybersex addiction: Using adult websites for sex and porn compulsively.
- Cyber-relationship addiction: Being overly involved in online relationships.
- Net compulsions: Gambling, day-trading, or shopping online obsessively.
- Information addiction: Surfing the web or searching databases compulsively.
- Computer addiction: Obsessive online gaming.
Symptoms for Internet Addiction
The signs that someone has an Internet addiction are very similar to the signs for any addiction. There can be emotional and physical symptoms.
Emotional signs that someone may be using the Internet compulsively include:
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of elation when using the Internet
- Inability to keep to a schedule
- Losing a sense of time
- Mood swings
- Avoidance of work
Physical signs that someone may be using the Internet compulsively include:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Poor nutrition (forgetting to eat or eating excessively)
- Poor personal hygiene (e.g., not bathing)
- Dry eyes and other vision problems
- Neck pain
- Weight gain or loss
Treatments for Internet Addiction at Thriveworks Knoxville, TN
There are in-patient facilities dedicated exclusively to treating teens and adults who use the Internet compulsively; however, not everyone needs in-patient care and not everyone can afford in-patient care. Thriveworks Knoxville offers treatment for Internet addiction. Our therapists have worked with many clients who were struggling with their Internet use. We offer holistic treatment. Each client receives a personalized treatment plan that may include Cognitive Behavior Therapy—a form of treatment that explores negative, untrue thought patterns that fuel the addiction and replace them with positive, true thought patterns. Clients may also need a form of group support and medication. Our therapists are dedicated to giving each client personalized care.
Are you ready to get started? When you contact our office, know that a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you make an appointment. We offer evening and weekend sessions, and new clients often meet with their counselor within 24 hours of their call to schedule an appointment. However, we do not keep a waitlist. Our goal is to get our clients the help they need as they need it. We also work with many insurance companies and accept a variety of plans. Let’s work together to fight Internet addiction. Call today.