Counseling in Marietta, GA for Internet Addiction
Natalie was not happy to be going to therapy with her parents, but they had insisted. Natalie had a tough year, and they said they were concerned. As they sat down with the counselor, Natalie’s parents explained their point of view. A year ago, Natalie went to school on-time, stayed after school for practice, and hung out with her friends. Recently, however, things have changed. Natalie has been losing weight and barely sleeping. She stopped all extra-curricular activities and spends so much time on the Internet. Natalie’s parents are worried for her safety—they do not know who she is meeting online. The counselor asked Natalie to share her point of view, and Natalie took a small but courageous step. She saw things differently. Her friends at school had been excluding her, and Natalie did not know why. They ignored her and stopped inviting her to hang out. During that counseling session, Natalie and her parents discovered that they all had a lot of work together. It was a first step on a long, healing journey, but they were not alone. Natalie had an Internet addiction, an increasingly common mental health challenge. More and more people are using the internet compulsively.
“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
Most people can go online anywhere and anytime they want. Some people can regulate their Internet use without any problems while others struggle—they may have an addiction to the Internet. Addiction can look like substance abuse or a compulsive behavior. Gambling, for example, is a behavior that some people can engage in without compulsion while others develop a dependency upon it. Internet addiction works in much the same way. Like any other addiction, it is a mental health challenge that can cause harm within an individual’s personal or professional life. Also like any other addiction, compulsive Internet use has treatments.
The counselors at Thriveworks Marietta offer treatment for Internet addiction. It is a common issue that our clients face, and we have helped many regain balance in their lives.
Compulsive Internet Use
The belief that people could become addicted to being online (as they could become addicted to shopping or gambling) was first introduced in 1995 by Dr. Ivan Goldberg, and many mental health professionals responded by laughing. However, therapists soon realized that Dr. Goldberg was onto something serious. Even before the Internet became accessible through smartphones and data plans, people were struggling with addiction. Dr. Kimberly Young developed diagnostics for identifying when someone may be addicted to the Internet. When an individual displays at least five of these symptoms, they may be using the Internet compulsively:
- An obsession with the Internet or being online.
- An inability to stop using the Internet or decrease use.
- Staying online for longer than one intended.
- Using the Internet even though it puts one’s personal or professional life at risk.
- Using the Internet as a mood-regulator.
- Spending more and more time online in order to feel satisfied with one’s use.
- When not using the Internet, feeling irritable, moody, or depressed.
- Lying about how much and/or when one uses the Internet.
It also became clear to mental health professionals that Internet addiction can come in a number of forms. Dr. Young also delineated several subcategories for compulsive Internet use:
- Net compulsions: Compulsive gambling, shopping, or day-trading online.
- Cybersex addiction: Obsessively using the Internet for sex and/or porn.
- Information addiction: Searching databases and surfing websites compulsively.
- Cyber-relationship addiction: Over-involvement in online relationships.
- Computer addiction: Obsessively playing games online.
Internet Addiction: Emotional and Physical Signs
Internet addiction can cause a number of challenges in an individual’s life, as the physical and emotional signs show. Emotionally, compulsive Internet use may lead to:
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of elation when using the Internet
- Losing a sense of time
- Inability to keep to a schedule
- Avoidance of work
- Mood swings
Physically, compulsive Internet use may lead to:
- Poor nutrition (forgetting to eat or eating excessively)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Poor personal hygiene (e.g., not bathing)
- Neck pain
- Dry eyes and other vision problems
- Weight gain or loss
Reaching Out for Help at Thriveworks Marietta: Appointments for Internet Addiction
There are a number of treatment options available to people who are struggling with their Internet use. If you recognized any of the diagnostic for or symptoms of Internet addiction, consider reaching out to Thriveworks Marietta for help. We give each client the personalized care they deserve. Some clients may benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy—a treatment that looks at untrue belief patterns that undergird the addiction. Other clients may benefit from medication. Others may need to be connected to a support group. Many need all three. A skilled therapist can often help people find the treatment that meets their unique needs.
If you are ready to meet with a mental health professional at Thriveworks Marietta, we are ready to meet with you. We offer weekend and evening sessions, but we do not put our clients on a waitlist. Let’s work together.